Tuberculosis Eradication Programme

Questions (991)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

991. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of herds with feedlot designation under the tuberculosis eradication programme that applied for derogation in each of the years 2016 to 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13799/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The number of controlled finishing units (formerly known as "feedlots") that moved in animals from restricted herds in the years in question are shown below:

2016: 96 controlled finishing units

2017: 110 controlled finishing units

2018: 117 controlled finishing units

No controlled finishing unit is exempt from TB testing. They have tailored testing protocols which are associated with bTB risk in the particular unit.

Nitrates Usage

Questions (992)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

992. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of feedlots that have exceeded the amount of 250 kg nitrogen per hectare as required by SI No. 65/2018 - European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) (Amendment) Regulations 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13800/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Nitrates Directive requires that farmers comply with a stocking rate limit of 170 kg of Nitrogen (N) from livestock manure per hectare per year. The Nitrates Derogation allows farmers, subject to strict additional environmental conditions, to apply up to 250 kg of livestock manure nitrogen per hectare and is an important facility for more intensive farmers.

The number of farmers who applied for a Nitrates Derogation in 2018, allowing them to farm to the higher stocking rate limit of 250 kg/N/ha was 6,891. The monitoring and processing of these applications is an ongoing process. 2018 applicants have until 31 March 2019 to submit final supporting documentation.

However, in 2017 the number of farmers who breached the 250 kg of nitrogen per hectare limit was 64, which was less than 1% of the total number of applicants. Of those who breached the 250 kg limit, one was designated as a controlled finishing unit (formerly know as feedlot).

Agriculture Scheme Appeals

Questions (993)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

993. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a payment will be expedited for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13850/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

A review by the Director of Agriculture Appeals Office of the decision of the Appeals Officer has been requested in this case in accordance with the provisions of the Agriculture Appeals Act, 2001. The Agriculture Appeals Office has indicated that requests for reviews are generally dealt with in order of receipt and that both the Department and the person named will be advised of the outcome when the review has been completed.

Achomhairc Talmhaíochta

Questions (994)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

994. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Talmhaíochta, Bia agus Mara cén uair a dhéanfar cinneadh ar athbhreithniú atá iarrtha ag a Roinn ar chinneadh a rinne an Oifig Achomhairc Talmhaíochta maidir le hachomharc a rinne feirmeoir (sonraí tugtha) i gContae na Gaillimhe; cén fáth a bhfuil moill fhada ar an athbhreithniú sin; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [13859/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Cuireadh in iúl dom go bhfuil athbhreithniú mionsonraithe curtha i gcrích ar an gcás dá dtagraítear anseo agus gur eisigh an Oifig um Achomhairc Talmhaíochta litir d'fhonn toradh an athbhreithnithe a chur in iúl don té atá ainmnithe trí phost cláraithe chuig an achomharcóir an 1 Márta 2019.

Food Industry Development

Questions (995)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

995. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the amount provided in 2018 and to date in 2019 for the construction of a new national food innovation hub; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13912/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department is providing Teagasc with €8.8m on a phased basis to finance the development of a new National Food Innovation Hub at its Research Centre in Moorepark.

Of this amount, €500,000 was allocated to the project in 2018. The budget provision for 2019 is €6m of which €400,000 has been allocated to date.

Teagasc has advised that it currently expects construction to be completed in 2020.

Greyhound Industry Data

Questions (996)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

996. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will consider publishing yearly lists outlining the number of greyhounds exported and the countries they were exported to; his views on whether this would be a welcome step for transparency in view of the concerns of welfare groups and past reports of Irish greyhounds being exported to countries with no animal welfare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13951/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

It is not possible to establish exact figures for greyhound exports, as TRACES, the European Commission's online management tool for all sanitary requirements on intra-EU trade and importation of animals, does not distinguish between breeds of dogs moved commercially. I can confirm that the vast majority of dogs that are moved from Ireland go to the UK,

The Welfare of Greyhounds Act 2011 obliges Bord na gCon to publish a code of practice for the welfare of greyhounds. The primary objective of the code is to set standards and clearly define what is expected of all individuals engaged in the care and management of registered greyhounds. Currently the code gives guidance on a range of areas including general welfare principles, animal husbandry, animal health and use of animal remedies. The Board proposes to expand the existing code to include provisions with regard to best practice when exporting greyhounds. This will include information and guidance on preparation for export, transportation arrangements and advising the exporter on the need to research the proposed export destination to establish the prevailing animal welfare code and legislation. Bord na gCon encourages and promotes the export of greyhounds only to countries that have established a positive animal welfare code and practices which is a view that I fully endorse.

Animal Welfare

Questions (997)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

997. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a review of a case (details supplied) drawn to his attention by a person will be undertaken; and if the original complaints by the person were investigated fully at the time of complaint. [13952/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The above named person has engaged in on-going contact with my Department since September 2010, regarding a number of complaints he has made relating to the mistreatment of his racehorses.

The subject matter of these complaints is outside the scope of my Department.

I am also aware that the complainant has alleged that Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) and the Irish Horse Regulatory Board (IHRB [formerly the Turf Club]), the bodies responsible for investigating the matters complained of, failed to investigate his allegations.

HRI and the IHRB Club have confirmed to my Department that they have fully investigated all matters under their remit and found no evidence of mistreatment of the complainant's horses.

Agriculture Scheme Appeals

Questions (998)

John McGuinness

Question:

998. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the appeal process in the case of a person (details supplied) will be expedited; if a positive response will issue in view of the fact that the error was made by his Department and not the person; if benefits will continue to issue in view of the fact that the stoppages that have already been made are causing hardship; if the reason it has taken so long to deal with the issue and the appeal will be investigated in view of the fact that the person responded in detail to all correspondence received; if the €5,000 due to the person will issue until a final settlement is reached; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14034/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named has submitted a request to the independent Agriculture Appeals Office to appeal a decision by my Department in relation to an application to the National Reserve and the Young Farmers Scheme.

The scheduling of this appeal hearing is a matter for the Agricultural Appeals Office following contact with the appellant and the officials from my Department required to attend the hearing. Following the conclusion of the appeal hearing, both parties to the appeal will be notified of the decision of the Appeals Officer. My Department will await the notification of this decision and will further review the case based on the outcome of the appeals process as notified by the Appeals Officer.

Live Exports

Question No. 1000 answered with Question No. 971.

Questions (999)

Catherine Martin

Question:

999. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason a ship (details supplied) was permitted to carry livestock from Greenore to Turkey on 7 March 2018, 10 April 2018 and 9 May 2018 despite the certificate of approval of livestock vessel having expired on 17 February 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14041/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The vessel in question was issued with temporary approvals while awaiting and pending the co-ordination of a full inspection. All sailings referred to were preceded by an inspection by Veterinary staff from my Department. The loading of cattle were supervised by officials of my Department and the animals were inspected and certified as regards health status and fitness for travel in the normal course.

The vessel in question has also since completed its full inspection and holds an approval until 2024.

Question No. 1000 answered with Question No. 971.

Horse Slaughtering Data

Questions (1001)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

1001. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of horses slaughtered for human consumption in 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14158/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The number of horses slaughtered for human consumption in 2018 and to date in 2019 (Jan & Feb) is set out in the table below.

Year

No.

2018

6,573

2019

453

Food Labelling

Questions (1002, 1009, 1016)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

1002. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the degree to which traceability, quality, husbandry and production requirements continue to be met in respect of all food and food products imported into the European Union; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14254/19]

View answer

Bernard Durkan

Question:

1009. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which he remains assured that the quality standards for Irish and EU food and food products remain constant throughout the EU and will not be undermined by inferior products; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14262/19]

View answer

Bernard Durkan

Question:

1016. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which the veracity of country of origin labelling in respect of food and food product imports from other EU countries that may have originated in third countries continues and will continue hereafter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14269/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1002, 1009 and 1016 together.

Food products placed on the marketplace are covered by a range of legislation designed to ensure that products supplied to consumers are of the highest safety standards. My Department plays a part in the enforcement of this legislation along with other Government departments and State Agencies such as the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) and the Health Service Executive. The FSAI is the body responsible for enforcement of regulations governing traceability, labelling and provision of food information to customers.

Labelling of food is governed by the EU food legislation on the provision of Food Information to Consumers (Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011), which lays down strict rules on labelling of ingredients. Country of origin labelling is mandatory for certain meats and other products such as honey and wine. From 1 April 2020 it will be mandatory to indicate the country of origin of the primary ingredient (which makes up more than 50% of a food) if it is different from the country of origin of the product as a whole.

Primary responsibility under EU law for the safety and traceability of food placed on the market lies with food business operators. The role of National Competent Agencies is to verify compliance with this requirement. This is done via a combination of inspecting establishments and auditing the food safety management systems which operators have in place. These controls are applied at different stages in the food supply chain. Regulation (EC) No. 178 of 2002 sets out the general principles and requirements of EU food law and stipulates that food business operators must, at all stages of production, processing and distribution within their business, ensure food law requirements are satisfied. In regard to traceability, the regulations require that food business operators have what is referred to as the ‘one step forward, one step backward’ traceability system. There are additional requirements for certain fishery and aquaculture products under the Control Regulation (Regulation 1224/2009 and Implementing Regulation 404/2011) from first sale to subsequent stages of production, processing and distribution up to retail.

My Department has a permanent veterinary presence at all of its approved slaughter plants. Controls at plants only engaged in secondary processing are carried out at a frequency based on an annual risk assessment. An annual audit of imported products is carried out in each Department-approved plant, including checks on physical identity, labelling and documentary checks.

Extra veterinary checks are carried out on selected consignments of foods imported into DAFM-approved establishments from other EU Member States or from Third Countries outside the EU. These checks include, physical checks of product condition, checks of accompanying documentation and checks of labelling and health markings.

The import of products of animal origin from third countries is governed by a comprehensive and robust legislative framework laid down at EU level, controlled by Member States in the first instance, and audited by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Health and Food Safety (formally the FVO), to ensure compliance with all of the relevant food safety standards. The legislation imposes health and supervisory requirements designed to ensure that imported products meet standards equivalent to those required for production and trade between Member States. Border Inspection Posts are operated by my Department. Import control procedures on products of animal and fish origin are highly prescriptive and strictly audited by the Directorate to ensure compliance. Inspection reports are published on the Directorate General for Health and Food Safety’s website.

I am satisfied that the controls and checks in place and enforced by my Department ensure that Irish consumers are protected and correctly informed when they purchase and consume food products.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has service contracts in place with the official agencies performing official controls, to verify compliance with the extensive requirements of food labelling legislation, in these establishments. The FSAI reports in detail on the number of inspections and checks carried out, and non-compliance findings.

Herd Data

Questions (1003)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

1003. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the strength of the national beef herd, dairy herd, pig herd and the sheep flock; the extent to which numbers have fluctuated over the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14255/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The CSO's June Livestock Survey includes the information below for the years 2008-2018:

000 head

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

Total cattle

6,902

6,891

6,607

6,493

6,754

- of which: Dairy cows

1,095

1,097

1,071

1,117

1,141

-of which: Other cows

1,220

1,204

1,158

1,123

1,149

Total sheep

5,061

4,778

4,745

4,830

5,170

of which: Ewes

2,614

2,451

2,450

2,435

2,589

Total pigs

1,462

1,385

1,516

1,549

1,571

of which: Female breeding pigs

156

147

160

155

145

000 head

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

*2018

Total cattle

6,903

6,926

6,964

7,221

7,364

7,348

- of which: Dairy cows

1,163

1,226

1,296

1,398

1,433

1,481

-of which: Other cows

1,150

1,129

1,076

1,104

1,081

1,048

Total sheep

5,007

5,097

5,139

5,179

5,197

5,106

of which: Ewes

2,568

2,514

2,488

2,505

2,515

2,499

Total pigs

1,553

1,555

1,537

1,594

1,557

1,621

of which: Female breeding pigs

147

150

148

149

143

149

* 2018 data is based on the CSO June Provisional Livestock Survey (except for Porcine figures). The final CSO report for this period will be published on 17 April 2019.

More detailed data from the CSO's June and December Livestock Surveys each year is available at the following link: https://www.cso.ie/en/statistics/agriculture/cropsandlivestockjunefinalresults/.

Poultry Industry

Questions (1004)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

1004. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which he continues to monitor the poultry sector with particular reference to threats to the industry; the degree to which potential for growth remains; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14256/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Poultry Sector plays an important role within the Irish agrifood sector, supporting around 6,000 jobs, most of these in rural areas.

The value of Irish poultry exports in 2018 increased by 1% to an over €280 million (CSO trade data), with the United Kingdom accounting for some 78% of this figure in value terms, a 2% decrease from the previous year. Other EU markets now account for almost 10% of Irish exports, with France leading the way followed closely by Finland and the Netherlands. Exports to third country markets now amounts to around 10% of export totals, with South Africa showing the biggest growth for Irish exporters: this market grew by 14% in 2018 to just under €30 million.

Irish production again hit record levels in 2018, with 98.6 million birds slaughtered in export-approved plants, an increase of 3.3% compared to 2017, with most of the increase evident in broiler and duck production. Overall, Irish poultry production is expected to exceed the 100 million mark in 2019.

While the outlook for the poultry sector is positive, the sector continues to face challenges particularly the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit. In this context, the pursuit and development of new markets is an ongoing and central component of the strategic development of the agrifood sector, as evidenced by the market development theme of Food Wise 2025. My Department is currently actively pursuing market access for poultry in a number of third country markets, including South Korea, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Avian influenza remains a threat. Following recent outbreaks in Europe, my Department continues to monitor the situation closely and engage with flock owners, with a view to remaining vigilant and implementing the necessary biosecurity measures required to safeguard Irish flocks.

The Rural Development programme 2014 – 2020 (RDP) is also providing key supports for the enhancement and the competitiveness of the poultry sector. The main areas for support in the RDP for the poultry sector include support for on-farm capital investment under the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme II (TAMS II) scheme and knowledge transfer and innovation measures, aimed at underpinning farm viability, sustainability and growth through the adoption of best practice and innovative solutions.

Food Marketing Programme

Questions (1005)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

1005. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which he continues to encourage new markets for food and food products with particular reference to switching to new markets in the aftermath of Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14257/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

In 2018 my Department continued to open new markets and deepen trade within existing markets for Irish agrifood exporters. The highlight in this respect was the decision of the Chinese authorities to open their market to Irish beef imports by listing a number of approved Irish beef establishments. Other notable achievements were agreements with Qatar and Kuwait which allowed for the importation of Irish beef, sheepmeat and poultry to their markets.

Against the backdrop of EU-agreed trade deals such as those completed with Canada, Japan and Mexico, my Department continues to prioritise efforts to gain access to new third country markets and, equally importantly, to deepen existing markets for Irish agrifood products.

Trade Missions play an important role in this regard. I have been very active on this front in recent years as we strive to gain, and then develop, a presence in as many global markets as possible. I have led very successful missions to the Gulf Region, the US, Mexico, Japan and Korea in 2017, and to the US, Canada, China, Indonesia and Malaysia in 2018. These missions included participants from across the agrifood sector and featured extensive trade contacts as well as high-level political discussions.

March 2019 has already seen the first trade mission of the year, this time to Turkey, primarily focusing on Live Trade. The remainder of 2019 will see missions to China in May, Japan and South Korea in June, and Algeria and Egypt in November. These destinations are in keeping with Bord Bia's recent market prioritisation exercise, which identified priorities in new and more mature markets, and will provide valuable market intelligence both for industry operators and policy makers.

The pursuit and development of new markets for Irish agrifood exports is of course an ongoing and central component of the strategic development of the agrifood sector, as evidenced by its placement right at the centre of Food Wise 2025, the industry’s strategy for development over the coming decade. Food Wise 2025 outlines the huge potential for growth in agrifood exports to new and emerging markets, particularly in Asia, Africa, the Americas and the Gulf region. This is where our efforts will be focused for the foreseeable future, particularly given the need to diversify our markets and to reduce our reliance on traditional destinations such as the UK.

Alternative Farm Enterprises

Questions (1006)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

1006. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the current extent of deer farming, domestic and-or export markets for venison; the extent to which the industry has fluctuated in the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14259/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Deer farming in Ireland is an alternative enterprise which is dependent on the dynamics of supply and demand which affect all agricultural production systems. In 1996 there were approximately 500 deer farms with 20,000 deer in Ireland, but numbers have declined sharply since that time.

Today there are only a small number of farmers in Ireland actively supplying deer for meat production, which cater primarily to specialised niche markets. The sector is reliant upon producers and companies ensuring that a market exists for their product, an objective which Bord Bia assists in by identifying and developing potential market outlets.

Growth in the past was achieved as a result of improved distribution for game meats, especially in supermarkets. Game and exotic meats historically occupy a premium, niche segment of the meat market. Whilst there are opportunities to compete with the larger premium segment of the red meat/poultry categories, it is important to note that demand is seasonal, with the greatest concentration of retail shelf space dedicated to game in the Winter/Christmas period.

Currently, my Department has approved one factory for the slaughter of deer in Ireland, and two game handling plants. There may also be outlets for processing of venison in Local Authority approved plants, but this would be a matter for the Local Authority concerned.

Below as requested, I have listed from 2010-2018 the annual farmed deer slaughter volumes:-

YEAR

VOLUME OF DEER SLAUGHTERED

2010

1,331

2011

1,115

2012

681

2013

843

2014

901

2015

681

2016

764

2017

271

2018

185

Farms Data

Questions (1007)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

1007. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which he continues to monitor the cost of farm production inputs with a view to maintaining a livelihood for farm families into the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14260/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department continually monitors the cost of farm production inputs by using the most recent data available from both national and international sources.

Official statistics on farm inputs are compiled by the Central Statistics Office (CSO). These statistics are reported on by the CSO in various publications and are available on their website. My Department's publications, such as the Annual Review and Outlook 2018, also report on the costs of farm inputs. Farm output, input costs and margins also receive detailed examination each year by Teagasc in their Annual Review and Outlook. International sources used to monitor farm inputs include, Eurostat, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and OECD.

In March 2019 the CSO released its Preliminary Estimate of Output, Input and Income in Agriculture for 2018. Expenditure on intermediate inputs was up 9.7% in 2018, to €5,759.8 million. The main items giving rise to this increase are feedstuff and fertilisers, which increased by 26.8% and 13.5% respectively. An increase of 26.8% in feedstuffs was partly due to a 19.8% increase in volume. Energy and Lubricants expenditure also was up 8.8%.

Each month the CSO issue the Agricultural Price Indices outlining the changes in output and input indices for a range of agricultural products. In their most recent release issued in mid-March, covering the period up to January 2019, the CSO indicated that the agricultural output price index decreased by 0.9% in January 2019 compared with December 2018. The agricultural input price index was up 0.1% over the same period. Thus, the resulting terms of trade index decreased by 0.9% in January 2019.

On an annual basis, the agricultural input price index increased by 5.7% in January 2019 compared with January 2018. The agricultural output price index was down 3.6% in January 2019, resulting in the terms of trade index decreasing by 8.8%.

Agrifood Sector

Question No. 1009 answered with Question No. 1002.

Questions (1008)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

1008. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the degree to which food producers, with particular reference to beef, lamb or pigmeat, can expect to compete on international markets both within the EU and elsewhere while ensuring that producers here can expect the same return as those in other competing states within and outside the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14261/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Irish food and drink exports have proved their ability to compete on EU and international markets. Meat exports (beef, pigmeat, poultry and sheepmeat) increased in value by €1.6 billion, or 76%, between 2009 and 2017, according to CSO trade statistics. This growth is driven by the strong reputation Irish product has in meeting the highest standards of food safety, animal welfare, quality and nutrition, produced in a sustainable manner. Developing new and existing markets, a key theme of the Food Wise strategy, is supported by my Department’s international market access initiatives and Bord Bia’s marketing and promotion work.

In relation to returns for primary producers, there have been a number of development in recent years in increasing transparency to assist stakeholders in making informed decisions. For example the 'Beef Pricewatch' app launched in 2014 makes the following information available to farmers free of charge and in a very accessible manner: the average price at national and individual factory level for Steers, Heifers, Cows, and Young and Old Bulls. In addition, discussions at EU level led to the development of the EU Market Observatory in 2016, which provides more transparency by disseminating Member State-level market data and short-term analysis in a timely manner.

Direct payments and other supports are also available for farmers under Pillar I of the CAP and the Rural Development Programme, as well as national schemes. For example, I recently launched the Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP) a targeted support of €20 million for suckler farmers specifically aimed at further improving the economic and environmental efficiency of beef production. As well as clear environmental and climate benefits, the BEEP will provide farm gate investment at a time of market volatility and uncertainty relating to Brexit.

Question No. 1009 answered with Question No. 1002.

Veterinary Inspection Service

Questions (1010)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

1010. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which he is satisfied regarding the adequacy of laboratory facilities here to meet bovine and equine requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14263/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department's Veterinary Laboratories consist of specialised divisions at Backweston (Virology/ Pathology/ Bacteriology) and a network of Regional Veterinary laboratories across the country providing laboratory diagnostic and surveillance services in respect of food-producing animals. Consequent on this capability and expertise, DAFM Laboratories host National Reference Laboratories for some specific diseases of cattle, horses and other species. The laboratory facilities at Backweston are state-of-the-art and include bio-containment laboratories which allow the safe handling of exotic viruses.

In addition to the services provided by the Department's laboratories, there are numerous private commercial laboratories that provide diagnostic services for cattle and other farmed animals and the Irish Equine Centre which provides capability and expertise in the diagnosis of equine diseases.

Tuberculosis Eradication Programme

Questions (1011)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

1011. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the trend discovered regarding the extermination of bovine tuberculosis; the areas in which a breakdown seems to have occurred and their causes; the action taken or to be taken to address these issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14264/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Bovine TB, remains a significant issue for Irish farmers with 3,874 herds restricted in 2018. 10,785 farmers experienced a TB restriction in 2000. This represents a 65% decrease in the number of herds restricted in 2000, highlighting the significant success of the TB Programme. While this historically low level of TB is very much to be welcomed, research work done in UCD tells us that without additional measures, the estimated timeline for eradication is 60 to 90 years.

The actions my Department takes when TB is found include restricting the herd and removing all reactor animals. Department officials conduct an epidemiological investigation as to the specific causes of the breakdown. Each herd must have two clear tests and gamma interferon testing is also used where deemed appropriate. Forward and backward trace tests as well as contiguous testing are all tools utilised to contain and stop the spread of the disease.

Regarding the risk posed by bovine TB, my Department provides advice to farmers through public meetings and online resources which are available on the bovine TB section of the Department’s website on how to reduce the risk to their cattle.

The impacts of TB on a farmer are severe, causing financial hardship and emotional stress. This is why it is so important to reduce the numbers of farmers affected and to move to eradicate this disease. For that reason, I directed my officials to establish the TB Stakeholder Forum last year, so that all stakeholders can have a voice in discussing which policy options should be chosen to reduce disease levels and eradicate bovine TB from Ireland.

The Forum has been tasked with agreeing measures that can further address disease transmission with the objective of eradication by 2030 and I look forward to receiving a report from the Forum in the coming months.