Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Questions (194)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

194. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to change the regulations regarding the eligibility of donkeys for the purpose of achieving a minimum stocking density under the ANC scheme; if his plans to allow donkeys to continue to be fully eligible for calculation of stocking density will be reconsidered; the names of stakeholders consulted by him in arriving at his decision; the details on animal welfare concerns that informed his decision; the way in which his decision to limit eligibility would address animal welfare concerns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17890/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Under the eligibility criteria of the Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) scheme, applicants must maintain 0.15 Livestock Units (LU) per eligible forage hectare for 7 consecutive months and maintain an average of 0.15 LU over the 12 months of the scheme.  Donkeys have always been accepted as eligible animals under the scheme along with cattle, sheep, goats and deer. Horses are also accepted but are subject to additional criteria and must be held on a premises registered as an Equine Breeding Enterprise.

In finalising the design of the 2019 ANC Scheme, officials from my Department consulted directly with the farmer representative bodies in relation to the inclusion of donkeys in the scheme in future years.  Officials from my Department are also in contact with the Donkey Sanctuary in this regard. 

Following such consultation, it has been decided to introduce changes in the scheme stocking requirement in relation to donkeys.  From the 2020 scheme year, only 50% of an applicants stocking density can be fulfilled using donkeys and the balance must be fulfilled using other eligible animals.  This change was highlighted in the Terms and Conditions document of the 2019 ANC scheme in order to give sufficient lead in time to applicants who may need to amend their stocking patterns.