Brexit Preparations

Questions (471)

Billy Kelleher

Question:

471. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he is taking to protect Irish agrifood interests and farmers at EU level; the measures he will take to protect the sector and farmers in the event of a no-deal Brexit; the position regarding discussions from the most recent EU Council meeting of agriculture ministers; the position regarding the common agriculture policy post-2020; and the latest developments in relation to the European Commission proposals published in June 2018. [16042/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Government has introduced dedicated Brexit-related support measures in the three most recent Budgets which were aimed at reducing both on-farm and agri business costs through, principally, a series of low-cost loan schemes.  Additional grant supports to Bord Bia and to Teagasc have been designed to intensify market and product diversification to reduce our exposure to the UK market.

Most recently, a €78 million Brexit package for farmers, fishermen, and food SMEs was announced in the 2019 Budget.  This comprises €44 million of direct aid to farmers through environmental schemes, €27 million in capital funding for the food industry and €7 million for staff recruitment and ICT requirements to meet the increased volumes of import controls and export certification arising from Brexit.

In relation to no-deal Brexit supports, I have recently met with Commissioner Hogan to discuss the potential impact of a disorderly Brexit on the sector and stressed the need to be ready to deploy a range of measures to mitigate the potential impacts on farmers and processors. Commissioner Hogan confirmed the EU’s readiness to respond and support Ireland, and my officials are currently examining options in consultation with the European Commission. 

The Council of Agriculture Ministers meeting on 18 March was an important opportunity to highlight to the Council, the Commission and to my fellow Ministers, the impacts of a no-deal Brexit on the agri-food sector in Ireland and with potential knock-on effects across the EU market as a whole.  During the discussion on the meat market, I outlined the exposure of the Irish beef sector in particular and called for the full suite of measures available under the Common Market Organisation, including targeted support for farmers, to be deployed rapidly in the event of a no-deal Brexit.  I also referred to the need to protect the EU beef sector in trade discussions with Mercosur, against the background of the significant uncertainty arising from Brexit.   I also highlighted the exposure of the Irish fisheries sector, and the need for careful joint EU management of fisheries resources, as well as financial supports for fishermen and their communities.

Negotiations on the CAP legislative proposals are ongoing at EU level.  Since the proposals were launched in June 2018, a significant number of Working Group meetings have taken place under the Austrian and Romanian Presidencies.  The proposals are also discussed at the Special Committee of Agriculture meetings on a regular basis and have, in fact, featured at every SCA meeting under the Romanian Presidency to date.  In addition, the CAP post-2020 is a standing agenda item at every Agri-Fish Council meeting, where I have discussed the CAP proposals extensively with my Agriculture Ministerial colleagues.

However, there is still some way to go before agreement can be reached on these proposals.  The Romanian Presidency has outlined its ambition to achieve a Partial General Approach on the proposals at its last Agri-Fish Council meeting of Ministers in June.  I can assure the Deputy that my Department is working hard with the Commission and the Council in an effort to secure the best possible agreement on the CAP post-2020 proposals.

Farm Improvement Scheme Eligibility

Questions (472)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

472. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the options and supports available to a farmer to dispose of a roof (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16118/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

There are no grants available from this Department for the removal of an asbestos roof.

Farm Data

Questions (473)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

473. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the gender breakdown of the number of farmers availing of farm payments (details supplied) in each of the years 2012 to 2018, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16125/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The information requested is not readily available.  

A further reply will issue to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Brexit Preparations

Questions (474)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

474. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the arrangements in place for the transport of horses between Ireland and Britain in the event of a hard Brexit (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16198/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department has issued a number of Brexit preparedness notices to assist industry.  These are available at the section of my Department's website dedicated to Brexit information - www.agriculture.gov.ie/brexit.  The notices include advice specific to the movement of horses, and general advice for importers and exporters.   

Anyone importing or exporting live animals from or to the UK will encounter new regulatory requirements and customs procedures along their supply chains, when the UK leaves the EU.  In a no-deal scenario, the Tripartite Agreement between Ireland, France and the UK will no longer apply to the UK.

Equines coming from the UK after Brexit can only enter Ireland at an EU border inspection post (BIP) for that species. As part of the Department's planning, we are upgrading existing BIPs and developing additional ones to cater for the movement of horses from the UK to Ireland.  Equines from the UK will undergo documentary, identity and physical checks at the BIP.  Each consignment  entering Ireland from the UK must be accompanied by an identification document, a completed Export Health Certificate issued by the UK authorities including a completed owner declaration, and a Common Veterinary Entry Document.

After the UK leaves the EU, customs formalities will commence for all existing and new traders with the UK.  As a result, such traders will be required to make customs declarations and will therefore need to register for an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number.  Registration with Revenue for this number should be completed as soon as possible at Revenue.ie. 

The UK government has indicated that, in a no-deal scenario, there will be no immediate change in requirements for equines that may currently enter the UK from Ireland without animal health documentation (these are equines that are currently permitted to move between Ireland and the UK on a valid passport, under the Tripartite Agreement). Equines entering the UK from the EU will not have to enter the UK via a Border Inspection Post.

Further relevant information, including how to register as an EU TRACES system user can also be found in the Brexit section of the website.  The link to the application form for access to TRACES is at https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/brexit/preparingforbrexit/registration/, and queries can be sent to BrexitRegistration@agriculture.gov.ie.

Equines transported between Ireland and the UK will continue to be subject to Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport.  However, in a no-deal scenario, transporter authorisations, certificates of approval of means of transport and certificates of competence for drivers and attendants issued by the UK under Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 will no longer be valid in the EU.

The UK has indicated that, for an interim period, when importing live animals, they will continue to recognise Transporter Authorisations, Certificates of Competence, Vehicle Approval Certificates and Journey Logs issued by EU countries.

Beef Environmental Efficiency Scheme Eligibility

Questions (475)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

475. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if farmers that qualified for a particular scheme (details supplied) will be prohibited from availing of the beef environmental efficiency pilot, BEEP, scheme under de minimis rules (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16201/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The European Commission undertook a review of the agriculture de minimis regulations during 2017 and 2018.  As a result of that review, the Commission recently published the revised rules on de minimis aid in the agriculture sector.  Under the revised rules, aid of up to €20,000 can be paid to a beneficiary on a rolling three year basis i.e. the current fiscal year and the two previous fiscal years.  Once a beneficiary has reached this limit they may not receive any further aid in excess of this limit under de minimis rules within the rolling time period.

In order to avoid any potential distortion of competition, each EU Member State has a maximum national limit, which they cannot exceed.  Under the revised rules, Member States' national ceiling is increased to 1.25% of their annual agricultural output over the same three-year period.  This represents a 25% increase in the national ceiling.

The revised rules permit a Member State to increase the individual de minimis aid limit up to €25,000, once the Member State does not spend more than 50% of its total national aid envelope on one particular agricultural sector.  In these circumstances, the national limit is increased to 1.5% of the annual output.  This represents a 66% increase in the ceiling per farmer and a 50% increase in the national ceiling.

The revised rules on de minimis aid in the agriculture sector – Commission Regulation (EU) 2019/316 – were published in the Official Journal on 22 February 2019.  This Regulation entered into force on the 20th day following its publication in the Official Journal i.e. 14 March 2019.

As regards the BEEP Scheme, I launched this scheme on 30 January 2019.  Applications for this scheme were accepted by my Department from 4 – 22 February 2019 (inclusive), which is before the revised rules on de minimis aid in the agriculture sector came into effect. Therefore, applications under the BEEP Scheme are considered on the basis of the threshold limits set out in Commission Regulation (EU) No 1408/2013 i.e €15,000 to a single undertaking over the period of three fiscal years.

However, this does not mean that farmers who have reached their €15,000 threshold limit since 2017 are precluded from applying under future agriculture de minimis schemes.  In the event that new de minimis schemes are introduced after 14 March 2019, applications for these schemes will be considered on the basis of the new increased threshold limits as set out in Commission Regulation (EU) 2019/316.

Animal Identification Schemes

Questions (476)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

476. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will assist in a matter (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16212/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Regional Veterinary Office (RVO) of my Department carried out an investigation recently and found serious identification discrepancies with regard to movement notifications to the Animal Identification and Movement database for the herd in question.  Some of these movements impacted upon establishing the TB status of the herd. As a consequence of these findings, the trading status of the herd has been restricted. 

The RVO is currently in contact with the livestock mart and the herd keeper with a view to assisting in resolving the large number of discrepancies identified as soon as possible, and to regularise the epidemiological unit and establish the TB status of the herd.   When all these matters are resolved in a satisfactory manner, the herd will be free to trade.  

Horse and Greyhound Fund

Questions (477)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

477. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the contents of the five year plan of an organisation (details supplied) have been signed further to the publication of a report into the sector; if funding will be provided in 2019 towards the implementation of the plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16289/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I wish to inform the Deputy that I have noted the funding proposal prepared in conjunction with the Five Year Strategic Plan for the Irish Harness Racing Association (IHRA), and their “addendum to Seed funding request” which outlines discussions with a Local Authority to examine the possibility for a site for a National Harness Racing stadium and training centre. Given the sale of their primary racetrack in Portmarnock, the priority now is finding an alternative racing venue. 

I am aware that discussions with a Local Authority on the matter of a racing venue are at an early stage, and I have requested that the proposal be examined fully by the IHRA, with details formalised, before I make any decision on future funding for the industry. 

Greyhound Industry

Questions (478)

Alan Kelly

Question:

478. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a copy of the document, Irish Greyhound Board Business Model Analysis, which was prepared by a company (details supplied) will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16316/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Bord na gCon is a commercial state body, established under the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958 chiefly to control greyhound racing and to improve and develop the greyhound industry.  Bord na gCon is a body corporate and a separate legal entity to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

 The matter raised by the Deputy is an operational matter for Bord na gCon and I have therefore asked them to respond to the Deputy directly on this query.   

Bord na gCon

Questions (479)

Alan Kelly

Question:

479. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the remuneration and benefits policy in place for management in the Irish Greyhound Board; the contracts, benefits and bonus structures that are in place; if they meet with all Government guidelines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16317/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Bord na gCon is a commercial state body, established under the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958 chiefly to control greyhound racing and to improve and develop the greyhound industry.  Bord na gCon is a body corporate and a separate legal entity to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The remuneration and benefit policy of staff is an operational matter for Bord na gCon and I have therefore asked them to provide the information requested directly to the Deputy. 

Bord na gCon Staff

Questions (480)

Alan Kelly

Question:

480. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the role of director of events and hospitality services advertised by the Irish Greyhound Board; if this role was appropriately filled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16318/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Bord na gCon is a commercial state body, established under the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958 chiefly to control greyhound racing and to improve and develop the greyhound industry.  Bord na gCon is a body corporate and a separate legal entity to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.  

 The recruitment and assignment of staff is an operational matter for Bord na gCon and I have therefore asked them to provide the information requested directly to the Deputy. 

Bord na gCon Staff

Questions (481)

Alan Kelly

Question:

481. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the role of the director of human resources advertised by the Irish Greyhound Board; if this role was appropriately filled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16319/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Bord na gCon is a commercial state body, established under the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958 chiefly to control greyhound racing and to improve and develop the greyhound industry.  Bord na gCon is a body corporate and a separate legal entity to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.  

 The recruitment of staff is an operational matter for Bord na gCon and I have therefore asked them to provide the information requested directly to the Deputy. 

Bord na gCon

Questions (482)

Alan Kelly

Question:

482. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the contracts awarded for human resource services by the Irish Greyhound Board since 2015; the cost of each individual contract; the tendering details of each contract; the reason such contracts have been necessary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16320/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Bord na gCon is a commercial state body, established under the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958 chiefly to control greyhound racing and to improve and develop the greyhound industry.  Bord na gCon is a body corporate and a separate legal entity to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.  

The matters referred to by the Deputy are operational matters for Bord na gCon and I have therefore asked them to provide the information requested directly to the Deputy. 

Bord na gCon

Questions (483)

Alan Kelly

Question:

483. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a list of all roles within the Irish Greyhound Board that have been publicly advertised in each of the years 2013 to 2018 and to date in 2019, will be published; if all roles in the organisation have been appropriately advertised during that time period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16321/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Bord na gCon is a commercial state body, established under the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958 chiefly to control greyhound racing and to improve and develop the greyhound industry.  Bord na gCon is a body corporate and a separate legal entity to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.  

The recruitment of staff is an operational matter for Bord na gCon and I have therefore asked them to provide the information requested directly to the Deputy.   

Bord na gCon

Questions (484)

Alan Kelly

Question:

484. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the ownership structures for all greyhound stadiums that come under the ownership or management of the Irish Greyhound Board; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16322/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Bord na gCon is a commercial state body, established under the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958 chiefly to control greyhound racing and to improve and develop the greyhound industry.  Bord na gCon is a body corporate and a separate legal entity to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.  

The ownership structure for all greyhound stadiums is an operational matter for Bord na gCon and I have therefore asked them to provide the information requested directly to the Deputy. 

Afforestation Programme

Questions (485)

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

485. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of an application (details supplied); when a decision can be expected on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16582/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

All applications for the Afforestation Grant and Premium Scheme are carefully vetted to ensure the highest standards are met with regard to silvicultural, environmental and water protection considerations.

An application for the site in question was accepted in June 2018. This particular site is in close proximity to a Natural Heritage Area (NHA) which means that assets found in that particular area must be protected.  Furthermore, the site contains water features which will require changes to the proposal.

This particular site was previously considered under another application, which has now expired.  However, additional plots were included in this fresh application.  Observations were received from the local authority and the National Parks and Wildlife Service and, in light of these observations, it was decided to request the Department’s Ecologist to review the proposed site. 

 This work has now been completed and it has been determined that further information will be required from the applicant and their registered forester.  A letter will issue in this regard shortly.

Basic Payment Scheme

Questions (486)

Niall Collins

Question:

486. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will address a matter regarding the national reserve in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16620/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Basic Payment Scheme National Reserve was introduced in 2015 to provide support to the two mandatory priority categories of ‘young farmer’ and ‘new entrant to farming’.  The eligibility conditions for the two categories supported under the National Reserve are based on the EU Regulations governing the operation of the scheme. 

The scheme is intended to provide financial assistance to farmers during the period immediately following the setting up of their farming enterprise.  In this regard, eligibility for the ‘new entrant’ category of the 2015 National Reserve was limited to farmers who commenced their agricultural activity in the 2013 calendar year or any later year.  For the 2017 National Reserve, successful ‘new entrant’ applicants must have commenced their agricultural activity in the 2015 calendar year or any later year.  The eligibility criteria for ‘new entrant’ applicants under the 2019 National Reserve is therefore consistent in requiring applicants to have commenced their agricultural activity in 2017 or any later year.

As the Terms and Conditions of the National Reserve are based on the EU Regulations governing the operation of the scheme, my Department has no discretion regarding their implementation and, as such, it is not possible to extend the eligibility criteria for the 2019 National Reserve ‘new entrant’ category to include farmers who have commenced the present agricultural activity prior to the 2017 calendar year.

The requirement for applicants to the National Reserve to have successfully completed the required agricultural education course by the closing date for receipt of applications under the scheme has been in place since the 2017 National Reserve.  This requirement is based on advice Ireland received from the EU Commission to ensure the scheme fits with the annual logic of Direct Payments in order to avoid a risk of non-compliance.

Waste Management

Questions (487)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

487. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason the ceiling on refuse collection charges was lifted in November 2018; the oversight and monitoring systems in place to ensure that consumers are paying a reasonable price for the service and that prices are consistent. [16047/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The waste management market in Ireland is serviced by private companies, where prices charged are a contract matter between those companies and their customers. My role as Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment is to ensure that the waste management market is operating in compliance with relevant environmental legislation. With regard to the charges applied for kerbside household waste collection, the charges applied should encourage householders to divert waste from the residual or general waste bin. To further encourage this practice, 'flat-rate fees' for household waste collection were phased out over the period October 2017 to October 2018. In other words, the pricing structure that least incentivises diversion of waste from landfill has been phased out. As Minister, I have no role in setting price levels.

Notwithstanding the above, the Price Monitoring Group (PMG) was established to monitor the rates charged by waste collectors during the phase out of flat-rate fees. It has found that there a number of different pricing models available in the market including various combinations of service charge, charge per bin lift, charge per kilogramme of weight and weight allowance. The PMG has considered data each month since September 2017 and has indicated that, in the vast majority of cases to date, charges have remained stable. Detailed data on price offerings is available on www.dccae.gov.ie and on www.mywaste.ie.

A 'ceiling on refuse collection charges' as referenced in the question was neither in place to begin with nor removed.

Data Protection

Questions (488)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

488. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if the practice by some local authorities of seeking information from private refuse companies of the details of persons registered with them for the stated purpose of combatting fly tipping is in line with General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR, legislation; and the rights of persons seeking to purchase bin labels in this regard. [16048/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

My Department has no role in the monitoring and enforcement of data protection legislation. Responsibility for these functions lies with the Data Protection Commission, which is independent in the performance of its functions. A Template for a Bye-law on Waste Presentation has been prepared by the three Regional Waste Management Offices and circulated to local authorities with a view to standardising such Bye-laws across the State. A number of local authorities have already introduced such Bye-laws with the remaining Local Authorities expected to do so by mid-2019. The Bye-laws govern a range of issues, including obliging consumers to participate in an authorised waste collection service (or provide documentary proof on what alternative means they use to dispose of their waste) and encouraging greater segregation of waste to reduce volumes of residual waste collected.

The requirement for people to demonstrate how they manage their waste is consistent with national policy as set out in A Resource Opportunity – Waste Management Policy in Ireland. However, the power to adopt Waste Presentation Bye-laws is a reserved function of a local authority. Accordingly, questions in relation to how householders demonstrate compliance with the Bye-laws are best directed to the relevant local authority.