Forestry Grants

Questions (544)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

544. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the supports available to support non-commercial planters of native woodland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29348/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I fully support the planting of native woodland and this is reflected in the generous financial incentives available in the current Forestry Programme 2014-2020, which contains two grant and premium categories specifically targeted at Native Woodland Establishment. These planting categories attract the highest grant and premium rates of all categories under my Department’s afforestation scheme. The mid-term review of the Forestry Programme, completed early last year increased these rates even further in order to encourage more landowners to plant native trees. The premium is paid each year for fifteen years at a rate of €665 per hectare.

Other supports include two Woodland Improvement Scheme grants of €750/ha and €500/ha to thin forests at different stages of the forest development to ensure a healthy and sustainable forest and a very successful Forest Knowledge Transfer Scheme to promote a forestry culture and improve the forest management skills of private forestry owners in Ireland. Participants on the Forest Knowledge Transfer scheme are paid €70 for attending each of the seven training modules.

Furthermore, the Native Woodland Conservation Scheme funds the protection and enhancement of existing native woodlands and, where appropriate, the conversion of conifer forests to native woodlands.

The Deputy may be interested to know that we also have in place a Woodland Environmental Fund which provides an opportunity for businesses to partner with the Government and Irish landowners to support the national effort to plant an additional 5 million native trees between now and 2020. This will result in an additional once-off top up payment of €1,000 per hectare to participating landowners.

I would encourage all landowners to consider forestry and in particular native woodlands as a land use option as these forests will become a long-lasting feature of our landscape, providing environmental benefits on an ongoing basis and adding colour and diversity to an area that can be enjoyed by local people and visitors alike.

Bord na gCon

Questions (545)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

545. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he or his officials have met the CEO and-or chairperson of the Irish Greyhound Board recently to discuss an investigation (details supplied) into the greyhound sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29355/19]

View answer

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.

I can confirm that my officials met with officials from Bord na gCon, including the CEO, on the 21st June 2019, after my Department received correspondence from RTÉ on their investigation.

Minister of State Doyle and Departmental officials also met with the members of the Board of Bord na gCon, including the Chairman, on the 4th July to discuss their response to the Programme and their proposed Action Plan.

Departmental Advertising Expenditure

Questions (546)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

546. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the amount spent on digital marketing in each of the past eight years; the items on which funds were spent; the criteria by which target audiences were selected; the amount of the digital spend targeted here; the amount targeted abroad; the amount that related to private companies; the amount that related to policy initiatives; and the purpose of the digital advertisements. [29384/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The bulk of my Department's digital marketing is in respect of notices in the specialised farming media. Decisions on the placement of notices are made on a case-by-case basis, depending on the nature of the advertisement and the target audience. All target audiences were domestic.

Spark Foundry (formerly Mediavest) hold the central Governmental contract for the provision of the majority of advertising needs.

The expenditure for the period in question is set out in the following table.

Digital/online marketing

2019

Event/Campaign

Total €

Getting Brexit Ready - Digital Ad  - Irish Times online

1,476

Irish Language Scheme (online) – Tuairisc.ie

429.27

Total paid in 2019 to date: €1,905.27

2018

Event/Campaign

Total €

Clean Livestock Policy for Sheep (online advert) – AgriLand

1,230

CAP 2020 Consultation Process (online advert) – AgriLand

2,460

Nitrates deadline (online advert) – AgriLand

4,305

Forestry Awareness (online advert) – DoneDeal.ie

6,089

Total paid in 2018: €14,084

2017

Event/Campaign

Total €

Advice Note for Backyard Flock Owners (online advert)

922.50

Engineers Ireland online ad (Engineer grade III (Civil)) (online advert)

184.50

BPS online applications clinics advert (Online Advert)- AgriLand

2,460

Invitation to become an organic demonstration farm (Online Advert)- AgriLand

1,230

FAS training on CAP and GLAS (Online Advert) – AgriLand

2,460

Total paid in 2017: €7,257

2016

Event/Campaign

Total €

NONE

NIL

Total paid in 2016: NIL

2015

Event/Campaign

Total €

NONE

NIL

Total paid in 2015: NIL

2014

Event/Campaign

Total €

Our Ocean Wealth 1st annual conference (Online notice)

307.50

Consultation on marine research/low carbon road map (Online advert)

123

Total paid in 2014: €430.50

2013

Event/Campaign

Total €

NONE

NIL

Total paid in 2013: NIL

2012

Event/Campaign

Total €

NONE

NIL

Total paid in 2012: NIL

Young Farmer Capital Investment Scheme Applications

Questions (547)

Margaret Murphy O'Mahony

Question:

547. Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the systems in place to expedite applications for TAMS II in circumstances in which essential work needs to be completed without delay and are awaiting receipt of confirmation from his Department, as in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29407/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named submitted an application under the Young Farmers Capital Investment Scheme of TAMS II on 4 April 2019. Approvals are issued after each tranche closes subject to factors such as budget availability etc. are finalised.

Following the ranking and selection process for the most recent tranche, the application was not selected for approval and the person named has been advised that the application has been rolled over to the next tranche which closed on Friday 5 July 2019. Once all applications in this tranche have been assessed, a further ranking and selection process will take place, following which successful applicants will go forward for further technical checks.

TAMS II is a demand-led scheme and all applications received in the latest tranche will be processed as quickly as possible.

Harness Racing Industry

Questions (548)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

548. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if funding will be made available to an organisation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29416/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I am aware of the request for funding referred to and the proposal is being examined by officials of my Department. In addition, 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.

I am also aware that discussions with the aforementioned Local Authority on the matter of a racing venue are on going, and I have requested the IHRA to revert to me with details of an agreement before I make any decision on future funding for the industry. I understand that my officials attended a meeting on this matter in recent weeks.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (549)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

549. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the costs paid to companies (details supplied) for projects which were engaged by his Department in each of the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; the reason each was engaged; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29435/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following table

2016

Name of Company

Fees Paid

Project Undertaken

Reason for Project

Mazars

€61,593.83

4 IT Audits

Provision of IT Audit Technical Support to the Internal Audit Unit.

2017

Name of Company

Fees Paid

Project Undertaken

Reason for Project

Mazars

€62,637.77

4 IT Audits

Provision of IT Audit Technical Support to the Internal Audit Unit.

2018

Name of Company

Fees Paid

Project Undertaken

Reason for Project

Mazars

€62,637.80

4 IT Audits

Provision of IT Audit Technical Support to the Internal Audit Unit.

2019 TO DATE

Name of Company

Fees Paid

Project Undertaken

Reason for Project

Mazars

€12,392.25

1 IT Audit

Provision of IT Audit Technical Support to the Internal Audit Unit.

Brexit Supports

Questions (550)

Carol Nolan

Question:

550. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to seek to remove the conditions attached to the receipt of funding under the Brexit beef plan of the European Commission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29476/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I have had ongoing discussions with Commissioner Hogan regarding the potential impact of a disorderly Brexit. I have stressed the need for the Commission to be ready to deploy a range of measures to mitigate the potential impacts on the agri-food and fisheries sector. Avoiding a no-deal Brexit continues to be the Government’s overriding policy priority.

I am also keenly aware that the past few months have been very difficult for beef farmers in particular, following a difficult year for farm incomes in 2018 due to weather conditions. There has been a prolonged and exceptional period of depressed prices since last autumn, with the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the outcome of Brexit, among other factors, contributing to this market disturbance.

The recent announcement by Commissioner Hogan of EU exceptional aid for the Irish beef sector is very welcome in this context. I have been making the case for some time for an exceptional aid package from the EU Commission for Irish beef farmers, at EU Council of Agriculture Minister meetings, and in direct consultation with the Commission. The announcement by the Commissioner is another example of the importance of EU solidarity when it comes to facing significant economic challenges.

This exceptional aid provision will be given effect through a Commission Implementing Regulation. While Member States were invited to give an opinion on the draft Regulation through the Commission’s Common Market Organisation (CMO) Management Committee, the Regulation is within the Commission’s own legal competence, and was not for negotiation with Ireland or indeed other Member States, in terms of its content. The regulation was passed by the CMO committee last month and will now be enacted. Ireland must now notify the Commission, no later than 31 July 2019, of the measures to be taken in accordance with the Regulation.

Further details on the aid package will be announced in due course following the appropriate stakeholder consultation.

Felling Licences

Questions (551)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

551. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position regarding the removal of mature trees by developers on a building site during the nesting season; if an exemption is in place in this regard; if written permission must be in place before the trees are felled; the fines in place in circumstances in which trees are felled illegally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29495/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The felling of trees is governed by the Forestry Act 2014, which provides the regulatory basis for the licensing of felling. There are certain situations, pursuant to the Act, where the felling of a tree is exempted from the need to obtain a felling licence (e.g. within 30 metres of a building but excluding any building built after the trees were planted). While it may be considered that some trees are exempted from the need to obtain a felling licence, my Department must still be notified that felling is to take place, and it will decide if the trees in question are exempted. There are also certain common scenarios whereby the felling of trees is exempted and my Department does not need to be notified. Other legislation, such as the Electricity Regulation Act 1999, may include provisions to fell trees without the need to obtain a felling licence, so it is important to know the details of a situation before it can be determined if trees in a particular case are exempted or not.

It is, however, important to note an exemption from the requirement to obtain a Tree Felling Licence under the Forestry Act 2014 (as amended) and Forestry Regulations 2017 (as amended) does not absolve an applicant or developer from any requirement in law to obtain such other approvals, consents, licences, permissions and/or authorisations that may be necessary (e.g. under the Wildlife Acts). It is the responsibility of the land owner or the person felling the tree to ensure that they are acting within the law.

Departmental Expenditure

Question No. 553 answered with Question No. 537.

Questions (552)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

552. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the costs paid to a company (details supplied) for projects which was engaged by his Department in each of the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; the reason it was engaged; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29544/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following table.

This expenditure relates to the annual certification of the Department's EAGF and EAFRD accounts.

2015

Name of Company

Fees Paid

Project Undertaken

Reason for Project

DELOITTE

137,111.14

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine – EAGF AND EAFRD Annual Accounts Certification

Independent Certification, as required by EU Regulations, of the Department’s FEOGA Guarantee payments.

DELOITTE *

€889,854.87

IT FISHERIES

ICT Development on IT Fisheries System

DELOITTE *

€1,434,471.01

IT Generic Claims Processing System (GCPS)

Development and maintenance of software to support Rural Development Plan 2014-2020 schemes.

DELOITTE *

€421,653.26

IT Animal Identification & Movement System (AIM)

ICT Development on Animal Identification Movement System

DELOITTE *

€116,755.30

IT Small Systems

ICT Development on Small Systems

DELOITTE *

€61,105.17

IT Fisheries Technical Review

Initial Payment of Technical Review of Integrated Fisheries Information System

* Deloitte formerly System Dynamics Ltd in 2015

2016

Name of Company

Fees Paid

Project Undertaken

Reason for Project

DELOITTE

€981,846.29

IT Animal Identification & Movement System (AIM)

ICT Development on Animal Identification Movement System

DELOITTE

€3,300,640.65

IT Generic Claims Processing System (GCPS)

Development and maintenance of software to support Rural Development Plan 2014-2020 schemes.

DELOITTE

€2,068,507.88

IT Fisheries /EMFF

ICT Development on IT Fisheries System

DELOITTE

€162,323.11

IT Small Systems

ICT Development on Small Systems

DELOITTE

18,721.83

IT Fisheries Technical Review

Final Payment of Technical Review of Integrated Fisheries Information System

2017

Name of Company

Fees Paid

Project Undertaken

Reason for Project

DELOITTE

€1,852,291.75

IT Fisheries/ EMFF

ICT Development on IT Fisheries System

DELOITTE

€913,886.35

IT Animal Identification & Movement System (AIM)

ICT Development on Animal Identification Movement System

DELOITTE

€1,066,430.51

IT Generic Claims Processing System (GCPS)

Development and maintenance of software to support Rural Development Plan 2014-2020 schemes.

DELOITTE

€784,528.10

IT Fisheries/ EMFF

ICT Development on IT Fisheries System

DELOITTE

€270,006.67

IT Small Systems

ICT Development on Small Systems

2018

Name of Company

Fees Paid

Project Undertaken

Reason for Project

DELOITTE

€25,805.40

Scoping exercise for creation of Jobs Portal

Scoping exercise for creation of Jobs Portal

DELOITTE

€3,748,464.63

IT Fisheries/ EMFF

ICT Development on IT Fisheries System

2019 TO DATE

Name of Company

Fees Paid

Project Undertaken

Reason for Project

DELOITTE

€1,691,977.67

IT Fisheries/ EMFF

ICT Development on IT Fisheries System

DELOITTE

€46,002.00

IT Security

Security Testing of ICT Infrastructure

Question No. 553 answered with Question No. 537.

GLAS Data

Questions (554, 555)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

554. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of GLAS payments in respect of low-emission slurry spreading in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019 that were based solely on invoices from contractors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29776/19]

View answer

Mattie McGrath

Question:

555. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of GLAS payments in respect of low-emission slurry spreading paid on the basis of contractor invoices; the reason his Department does not keep a register of contractors that received such payments to ensure they are tax compliant and VAT registered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29777/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 554 and 555 together.

GLAS participants who undertake the Low Emission Slurry Spreading (LESS) action have the option of carrying out the spreading themselves or employing a contractor. The Department does not keep a register of contractors who provide this service to GLAS participants. GLAS payments for this action are made in full to the farmer as required by the governing regulations and where a contractor is used, the contract is a private matter between the farmer and contractor.

Participants must submit an annual declaration form and declare the spreading method used and volumes spread on the holding on an annual basis. No payments are calculated on the basis of invoices received from service providers.

Fur Farming

Questions (556)

Bobby Aylward

Question:

556. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to introduce a compensation package for fur farmers further to the decision in principle to ban fur farming over a phased period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29791/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Government recently agreed to the phased dis-establishment of fur farming in Ireland.

The Government will now proceed to bring forward a Bill which will be drafted in conjunction with the Attorney General’s Office. This Bill will make it illegal for any new fur farms to be established and phase out arrangements will be put in place for the small number of current operators to allow for an orderly wind down of the sector.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (557)

David Cullinane

Question:

557. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the amount spent on tribunals, commissions of investigation and statutory inquiries in each of the years 2009 to 2018 and to date in 2019, by inquiry, tribunal or commission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29826/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

No money has been spent by my Department on Tribunals, Commission of Investigations or Statutory Inquiries for each of the years 2009 to 2018, or to date in 2019.

Trade Sanctions

Questions (558)

Jackie Cahill

Question:

558. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on the confirmation that the Office of the United States Trade Representative is considering including dairy products on a final list of items to be subject to increased duties from the EU as set out in a document (details supplied); the steps being taken at EU level in response to this; and if there have been discussions with other member states, the European Commission and the US administration regarding this development. [29860/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The US and EU have been in a long-running dispute regarding subsidies to their respective major Aircraft manufacturers, Airbus (EU) and Boeing (US).

Both the EU and US had submitted cases to the WTO for adjudication. On 15 May 2018, the WTO Appellate Body found in favour of the US. The EU challenged the awarded estimate and a WTO arbitrator is currently evaluating this claim and is due to report this summer.

Separately, on 29 March 2019, the WTO's Appellate Body confirmed the European Union's position that the United States had failed to remove trade distorting subsidies in favour of Boeing.

On 8 April 2019, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) released a list of European goods worth $11 billion that could be targeted with additional tariffs. The targeted items include cheeses, wine, and other food products as well as helicopters and aircraft. In response, on 12 April, the EU published a list of potential countermeasures, with the amount of permitted EU countermeasures to be determined by a WTO-appointed arbitrator.

On 7 July 2019, the USTR issued for public comment, a supplemental list of products to the original list of 8 April 2019 that could potentially be subject to additional duties. While USTR have stated that they are specifically targeting EU countries directly supporting Airbus in these measures, when the lists are reviewed, there are products that are exported from Ireland to the US, including dairy and beverages. This is most unwelcome and it is in Ireland's interest to find a solution to this issue.

The European Commission, having competence in relation to trade matters, negotiates on behalf of Member States, including in relation to trade disputes. Ireland has highlighted the potential impact on the Irish agri-food sector of the proposed tariffs published by the USTR, at the EU Trade Policy Committee (TPC), and has ensured that those negotiating on behalf of the EU are fully aware of Irish concerns in this matter.

The Irish Embassy in Washington is fully abreast of Irish concerns in this dispute and has made these concerns, and, indeed, the importance of the USA market for the dairy & spirits industries, known to USTR officials.

Greyhound Industry

Questions (559)

Jackie Cahill

Question:

559. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the funding allocated to the greyhound sector to date in 2019; the amount allocated to animal welfare; the administrative process for issuing and revoking certificates by his Department on exporting greyhounds out of this jurisdiction; the number of certificates issued annually to EU countries and non-EU countries for such exports in each of the years 2014 to 2018, in tabular form; and the EU regulations that apply to such exports including animal welfare provisions. [29861/19]

View answer

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 funding paid to Bord na gCon to date this year is €14.7m.

My Department has a close working relationship with animal welfare charities and provides financial support to a number of animal welfare organisations through its ex-gratia animal welfare funding. My Department provided funding of €2,751,000 to animal welfare groups in 2018. The process of awarding funding to animal welfare charities for this year is underway.

The Department’s animal welfare funding is in addition to the €100,000 that Bord na gCon makes directly to the Irish Retired Greyhound Trust. This funding is matched by a 2% contribution of winning owner’s prizemoney, which in itself derives from the Horse & Greyhound Fund. In 2018, the total income of the Irish Retired Greyhound Trust was €242,000. Bord na gCon’s overall spend on regulation and welfare matters will be just short of €2 million in 2019.

With regards to the export of greyhounds, under Council Directive 92/65/EEC (the “Balai” Directive), dogs moved commercially to another EU country from Ireland must be accompanied by an EU pet passport, be microchipped and have a valid rabies vaccination. Also, under the Balai Directive, premises exporting dogs must be registered with the Department in advance of the export. Before travel, dogs must undergo a clinical examination by an authorised veterinarian, who must verify that the dogs show no obvious signs of disease and are fit to be transported. Dogs must also have a health certificate issued by a Department veterinarian. These procedures, including vaccination, ensure that only healthy dogs, over the age of 15 weeks, are allowed to be exported.

Exporters are also required to comply with the provisions of the Council Regulation (EC) No 1 of 2005 on the protection of animals during transport.

My Department only issues health certs for export once all the criteria outlined above have been met. For this reason, in general health certificates are not revoked, as they would not have been issued if all requirements were not fulfilled.

It is not possible to establish exact figures for greyhound exports to other EU countries, 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. The figures for commercial movements of dogs from Ireland to other European Member States for the years 2014 to date are in the table below.

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019: YTD

3,316

10,847

12,103

12,898

10,322

5,193

Information received from my Department’s Regional Veterinary Offices indicate the following commercial movements of greyhound to third countries from 2016-2019.

2016

2017

2018

2019: YTD

China - 9

Chile - 1

Argentina - 1

Australia - 1

Argentina - 11

South Africa - 2

South Africa - 1

Sheepmeat Sector

Questions (560)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

560. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the imports of sheep meat from Australia to Ireland to date in 2019; the volume in tonnes and the type of cuts involved; and if additional information (details supplied) will be provided. [29883/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

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 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.

Veterinary checks are carried out on all consignments of foods of animal origin imported into the European Union from third countries, at approved facilities called Border Inspection Posts (BIPs). All consignments must comply with EU rules for the importation of such products, including requirements for the approval of establishments, for consignments to be accompanied by a veterinary health certificate, and for advance notification of arrival. Upon arrival, all consignments must undergo documentary and identity checks in accordance with European regulations. Physical checks, including sampling of products, are carried at frequencies laid down in EU legislation. Import control procedures on products of animal and fish origin are highly prescriptive and are audited by the European Commission (DG SANTE) to ensure compliance. Inspection finding reports are published on the Directorate General for Health and Food Safety’s website.

To date in 2019, there have been 16 consignments of frozen sheepmeat with bone in for human consumption imported into Ireland from Australia, all of which came through Dublin Port. The total volume of these consignments was 240 tonnes.

Beef Imports

Questions (561)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

561. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of bovine animals imported for slaughter from 1 January 2018 and to date in 2019, by category, that is, steer, heifer, young bull or cow; the destinations of the animals in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29884/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

In 2018, 8,329 cattle were imported into the country for immediate slaughter. Information on sub-divisional categories of these animals such as steer, heifer, young bull and cow is not recorded on the Animal Identification and Movement system.

Data for 2019 is not available in a definitive form yet, but will be available later in the year.

Beef Imports

Questions (562)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

562. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of tonnes of imported beef since 1 Jan 2018 and in 2019 to date by category, that is, steers, heifers, young bulls or cows; the age of same; the origin of same; the checks undertaken on the imports in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29885/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

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 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.

Veterinary checks are carried out on all consignments of foods of animal origin imported into the European Union from third countries, at designated facilities called Border Inspection Posts (BIPs). Currently, there are four BIPS approved in Ireland - Dublin Airport, Dublin Port, Shannon Airport and Rosslare Port (recently added for the purposes of Brexit). All consignments must comply with EU rules for the importation of such products, including requirements for the approval of establishments, for consignments to be accompanied by a veterinary health certificate and for advance notification of arrival. Upon arrival, all consignments must undergo documentary and identity checks in accordance with European regulations. Physical checks, including sampling of products, are carried at frequencies laid down in EU legislation. Import control procedures on products of animal and fish origin are highly prescriptive and are audited by the European Commission (DG SANTE) to ensure compliance. Inspection finding reports are published on the DG SANTE’s website.

Thirteen consignments, described as beef or beef products, comprising approximately 133 tonnes have been imported into Ireland from a variety of third countries (Australia, Uruguay, Botswana and Japan) since January 2018. This compares to total Irish beef production of over 500,000 tonnes in 2018. Checks on these consignments were carried out, in compliance with the rules described above, on behalf of Ireland, at the point of first arrival in the EU. The consignments were certified by the BIP inspector at the point of first arrival as being in compliance with EU requirements, and as such the consignments were released for onward travel to Ireland.

The CN codes under which beef and beef products travel internationally does not provide for a distinction to be made between meat coming from different categories of animals.

Departmental Data

Questions (563)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

563. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on issues raised on data released by his Department (details supplied); and the reason figures are rounded to the nearest thousand in the animal identification system for animal movements for cattle. [29886/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

As part of the TB eradication programme, beef finishing herds, if they meet the necessary criteria, are allowed to avail of a special status, termed “Controlled Finishing Unit”. When a herd meets the criteria to be regarded as a ‘Controlled Finishing Unit’ under the TB Eradication Programme, the herd is restricted under the TB Regulations and a special official supervisory and testing protocol is established. Such herds are not exempted from testing, reactor removal or disinfection requirements.

Restricted Controlled Finishing Units are TB tested at least once a year. This Controlled Finishing Unit status arrangement allows the delivery of an effective level of disease risk management while controlling the risk of further disease spread in compliance with animal health legislation, and enabling business continuity in this particular type of enterprise through the inward movement of cattle.

Cattle from Controlled Finishing Unit herds restricted under the TB Eradication programme are only permitted to move to a EU approved slaughter plant. The precise numbers of movement from these Units to slaughtering plants is available on my Department's website. The current table was published rounded to the nearest 1,000 for the purpose of clarity of presentation.

Tillage Sector

Questions (564)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

564. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason fodder beet is not considered an eligible tillage crop under the tillage capital investment scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29970/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Fodder beet and other crops such as maize and sugar beet are excluded from the eligible crops list for the purposes of the Tillage Scheme of TAMS II.

These crops are sown primarily as a forage crop for animal feed.

Tillage Sector

Questions (565)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

565. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason a farmer (details supplied) was not approved a grant under the tillage capital investment scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29971/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named applied for a grant under the Tillage Capital Investment Scheme of TAMS II. This application was rejected as the applicant had insufficient hectares of eligible crops as per the Terms and Conditions of the scheme which states:

The Scheme is open to farmers who

(i) prior to submitting the online TAMS II application have a minimum of 15 hectares of eligible crops which have been declared under the Basic Payment Scheme or equivalent in the year of application or preceding year.

(ii) have a Department identifier

Fodder beet is not considered an eligible crop for the purposes of the TAMS scheme.

Trade Agreements

Questions (566)

Denis Naughten

Question:

566. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 46 of 3 July 2019, the steps he has taken to provide data to support the climate threats posed by the Mercosur deal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29974/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The political agreement between EU and Mercosur includes a detailed chapter on Sustainable Development goals. The agreement recognises the need to address the urgent threat of climate change and the role trade has in this regard. It also underscores the importance of both Parties implementing the provisions of the Paris Agreement.  It is fundamental that these provisions are adhered to by the Mercosur countries in order for the agreement to progress.

Now that political agreement has been reached between the EU Commission and Mercosur, Minister Humphreys will be commissioning a full economic and sustainability assessment to measure its impact.  My Department will assist with that exercise.  

Climate Change Policy

Questions (567)

Denis Naughten

Question:

567. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his Department has ceased the purchase and use of single-use plastics; the public bodies and agencies under his remit to which he has issued an instruction to cease the purchase and use of single-use plastics; when the instruction issued; the bodies which have confirmed that they no longer purchase and use single-use plastics, respectively; the bodies which have not provided such confirmation to date; when they will confirm; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29977/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

In line with the Government Decision on the 4th of January of this year, my Department has ceased the use of single use plastics in all of its canteen facilities. All stocks of plastic beverage containers, cutlery, straws etc. were used up by the end of March and they have now been replaced with either compostable or metal alternatives. This was done in conjunction with an awareness campaign across the Department to make staff aware of the societal benefit of eliminating the use of single-use containers by replacing them with reusable containers.

Earlier this year, my Department wrote to all state bodies under its aegis to inform them of their obligation to cease the use of single use plastic cutlery and beverage containers. These bodies were also informed of the requirement to submit a report to the Department by the end of November this year outlining their efforts to minimise waste generation and maximise recycling, as required by the Government decision.

Electric Vehicles

Questions (568)

John Lahart

Question:

568. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of vehicle e-charging points installed in Dublin since 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29715/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

There are currently over 650 standard public charge points and 78 fast chargers as a part of the ESB eCars network. A map showing these charge points, including their status and availability, is available on the ESB's website at www.esb.ie/ecars.

The operation and maintenance of charge points is a matter for ESB eCars and therefore not in the remit of this Department. However, Department officials have contacted ESB eCars and have been advised that it has not installed any new charge points in Dublin since 2016.

It should be noted that there are also a number of location/destination chargers which include chargers provided at hotels, shopping centres, visitor attractions, places of employment, private car parks etc.

Under the first call for applications from the Climate Action Fund, I approved funding of up to €10 million to support ESB eCars to develop a nationwide, state-of-the-art electric vehicle fast charging network. This project successfully completed the assessment stage and the validation stage is now underway. The project includes the installation of 90 high-power chargers each of which will be capable of charging two vehicles simultaneously, upgrading 50 existing standard chargers to fast chargers and replacing over 250 existing standard chargers with next generation high reliability models. This is a multi-annual project and is expected to be fully completed by 2022.

The locations of the chargers have not been finalised. However, a provisional map of the planned network, showing indicative locations, was developed by ESB eCars and has been published on my Department’s website. ESB eCars is currently identifying the most appropriate locations for the chargers to be sited. The sites will be identified using the latest software mapping techniques, taking account of information on current charge point usage, traffic volume, accessibility, amenities and grid capacity at the sites.

To support charging at home, a grant of up to €600 is available rom the SEAI to support the purchase and installation of a home charger for purchasers of new and second-hand electric vehicles.

Broadband Service Provision

Questions (569, 570)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

569. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to extend high-speed fibre broadband to a household (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29071/19]

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Pearse Doherty

Question:

570. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the parameters for deciding to exclude properties (details supplied) in County Donegal in high-speed fibre broadband installations in the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29072/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 569 and 570 together.

Every home, farm, school and business in Ireland will have access to high speed broadband – no matter where they are located – following the Government’s decision to approve the appointment of a preferred bidder to the National Broadband Plan.

There are 31 premises in the townland of Ballycroy, Co. Donegal. All 31 premises, including the specific Eircode referenced by the Deputy, are in the AMBER area on the National Broadband Plan (NBP) High Speed Broadband Map, which is available on my Department's website at www.broadband.gov.ie . The AMBER areas represent the target areas for the proposed State led Intervention under the NBP. The premises in the townland will receive access to a high speed broadband service through this intervention.

This intervention is the subject of the procurement process to engage a company to build, operate and maintain the NBP State intervention network. I recently brought a recommendation to Government to confer Preferred Bidder status on Granahan McCourt, the remaining bidder in the NBP procurement process and Government agreed to this.

The Government Decision of 7 May 2019 means that it is intended to award the State Intervention contract to the Bidder. This award is subject to contract close, including finalisation of financial and legal documents. Deployment of the NBP State Intervention network will commence shortly that.

The Bidder has indicated that the NBP State intervention will take an estimated 7 years from the beginning of deployment.

In the first year of this roll out, the Bidder will deploy approximately 300 Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) across all counties. It is anticipated that between 7 and 23 BCPs will be deployed in each county. BCPs will provide a community based high speed broadband service, enhancing online participation and allowing for the establishment of digital work hubs in these locations. A deployment plan will be made available by the bidder once the contract is signed. The Bidder is aiming to pass 133,000 premises by end of the second year of the overall deployment, with 70-100,000 passed each year thereafter until roll out is completed.

The Deputy makes reference to the proximity of the premises in Ballycroy to a commercial deployment of high speed broadband. This deployment is part of eir's commercial roll out of high speed broadband to 300,000 predominantly rural premises, in line with a Commitment Agreement signed with my Department in April 2017.

eir’s rural investment in high speed broadband is an entirely commercial undertaking, and not part of the planned State Intervention network. Although the deployment is monitored under the terms of the Commitment Agreement, it is not funded by the State and it is not planned, designed or directed by my Department in any capacity.

Decisions made by private telecommunication operators relating to the roll out and siting of infrastructure to provide high speed broadband services throughout Ireland are undertaken on a commercial basis. I have no statutory role or function in such commercial decisions of private operators, and therefore cannot direct operators regarding infrastructure installation or delivery of services.

Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff Scheme

Questions (571)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

571. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the position regarding the auction process for feed-in tariffs for solar farms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29135/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Climate Action Plan includes a suite of actions to decarbonise the electricity sector and boost the quantity of renewable generation in order to meet our target of 70% of electricity demand from renewable sources by 2030.

In order to deliver on the ambition set out in the Plan, my Department is developing the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS). The RESS is being designed within a competitive auction-based, cost effective framework and the scheme will provide for a renewable electricity (RES-E) ambition of 70% by 2030.

Technology diversity, including solar PV and offshore wind, will occur naturally as the scheme matures and certain intervention levers may be used within each auction round to promote certain policy objectives such as community participation, community ownership and diversifying the renewable energy mix. Globally, the costs of renewable technologies are falling rapidly with solar PV showing the most rapid decrease in prices in recent years.

I am targeting the delivery of indicative volumes of up to 1.5 GW of grid scale solar by 2030. Grid scale solar energy farms will be critical to diversifying the renewable technology mix and to deliver gains through connecting hybrid renewable technologies.

The terms and conditions of the RESS auctions will set out the process by which all competing technologies including grid scale solar farms connect and receive support for supplying energy to the national grid. The first RESS auction is expected to open for applications in late 2019. In addition corporate power purchase agreements will provide a route to market for solar PV and will be key to meeting our 70% RES-E target.