Beef Industry

Questions (788)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Question:

788. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the announcement made by a company (details supplied) in recent weeks relating to weight limits and penalties was in breach of the agreement reached on 15 September 2019 regarding a minimum of four months notice to the farmer before changes are implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44316/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I refer the Deputy to the text of the Agreement reached on 15 September 2019, which is available on the DAFM website at https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/media/migration/farmingsectors/beef/Agreement15September170919.pdf.

Specifically, in relation to this issue, industry committed to 'no change in weight limits without a minimum of four months notice to the farmer'.

Meat Industry Ireland has informed my Department that the notification referenced by the Deputy was issued to provide clarification of the existing position in relation to penalties for weight limit breaches.

GLAS Appeals

Questions (789)

Robert Troy

Question:

789. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a full GLAS payment will be awarded to a person (details supplied). [44331/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

There is no record of any appeal in respect of GLAS payments for the person named.

In this case, as part of GLAS 2019 pre-payment checks, the area of the commonage claim will be reviewed to determine the correct baseline for payment under GLAS as the eligible area has been reduced.

GLAS payments are calculated annually for qualifying actions delivered. Prior to payment, administrative checks are made on all GLAS claims including a cross check with Basic Payment Scheme records to validate GLAS area-based claims. If there is a reduction in the area being claimed on BPS, this will be reflected in GLAS payments. GLAS actions must be delivered for the duration of the contract and cannot be moved during these five years.

Animal Welfare

Questions (790)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

790. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 211 of 10 October 2019, the outcome of the investigation carried out by his Department at the farm as reported in the media (details supplied). [44382/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department is currently conducting an investigation under the Environmental Impact Assessment regulations ( SI 456/2011) in County Donegal and, as a result, I cannot comment further while matters are under investigation.

Brexit Supports

Questions (791)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

791. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the BEAM scheme is open to farmers that sell their cattle to a feedlot and the cattle are then slaughtered 70 days after leaving the farm; if there are exemptions for farmers supplying cattle to feedlots; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44434/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The object of the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) is to provide temporary exceptional adjustment aid to farmers in the beef sector in Ireland subject to the conditions set out in EU Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/1132. BEAM is funded by a combination of EU exceptional aid and Exchequer support, provided in light of the difficult circumstances that Irish beef farmers have been facing as a result of market volatility and uncertainty.

Under the scheme, aid will be paid on adult cattle slaughtered between September 24, 2018, and May 12, 2019, at a rate of €100 per animal subject to a maximum of 100 finished animals per herd. Aid will also be paid on suckler cows that calved in 2018, at a rate of €40 per animal subject to a maximum of 40 sucklers per herd.

Where an animal is presented for slaughter by an agent or by a dealer within 30 days of purchase, including those purchased in the mart, payment may issue to the immediate previous herdowner if they are otherwise eligible and a participants in the scheme. There is no dispensation in the scheme for payment on animals sold to feedlots and slaughtered after 70 days to be made to the previous owner.

Sheep Census

Questions (792)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Question:

792. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of breeding ewes in each of the years 2016 to 2018, according to the annual sheep census; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44436/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The number of breeding ewes recorded in the annual sheep census, which is carried out in December each year, for the years 2016 to 2018 are as follows -

December 2016 - 2,640,048

December 2017 - 2,646,078

December 2018 - 2,560,180

Live Exports

Questions (793)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Question:

793. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of lambs under one year of age exported live in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the export destinations of these lambs in each year in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44437/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The number of sheep exported live in each of the years 2016-2018 and to date in 2019, and the export destinations of these sheep in each year can be found below in tabular form. This data refers to EU countries and has been taken from the TRACES database which does not allow for the extraction of reports that indicate the age of the sheep.

A small number of consignments of sheep have been exported to some third countries during this period. My Department is currently gathering the data with regard to these and will revert as soon as possible.

Tables:

2016

-

Country of Destination

Total Number of Animals

Belgium

8,507

France

22,685

Germany

4,902

Italy

1,677

The Netherlands

7,845

United Kingdom

2,216

Total

47,832

2017

-

Country of Destination

Total Number of Animals

Belgium

4,683

France

16,554

Germany

5,144

Italy

746

Portugal

11

Romania

15

The Netherlands

8,112

United Kingdom

1,123

Total

36,388

2018

-

Country of Destination

Total Number of Animals

Belgium

1,510

France

16,768

Germany

5

Italy

276

Portugal

4

Spain

3

The Netherlands

2,077

United Kingdom

158

Total

20,801

2019 (YTD)

-

Country of Destination

Total Number of Animals

Belgium

253

Bulgaria

280

France

4,555

Germany

23

Italy

858

Spain

4

The Netherlands

515

United Kingdom

285

Total

6,773

Sheepmeat Sector

Questions (794)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Question:

794. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of lambs under one year of age slaughtered here in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44438/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Data is collected by the Department in relation to the category of Spring Lambs, defined as sheep that are under 12 months of age that are both born and slaughtered within the same calendar year,

The following table shows the number of spring lambs which were slaughtered in the Republic of Ireland from 2016 to date in 2019.

Year

Quantity

2019

1,183,957

2018

1,653,201

2017

1,695,277

2016

1,560,808

Figures as reported in the Meat Market Report up to 27 October 2019.

Aquaculture Licence Data

Questions (795, 796, 797)

Eamon Ryan

Question:

795. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will provide copies of each boat licence granted for fisheries and the historic tracks of vessels when dredging for seed since 18 September 2019, in view of the ongoing wild mussel seed dredging in accordance with SI No. 464 of 2019, Sea-Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction (Mussel Seed) (Opening of Fisheries) Regulations 2019. [44601/19]

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Eamon Ryan

Question:

796. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the economic contribution that mussel seed dredging and mussel bottom grown aquaculture play in the economy; the gross and net weight tonnage processed in 2018; the tonnage exported live; and the countries to which they were exported. [44602/19]

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Eamon Ryan

Question:

797. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if there is research funded or used by his Department on mussel seed and bed ecosystem services, especially the role that mussel seed and mussels beds play in supporting fish stocks; and if so, if the research is taken into account in deciding on the opening or closing of a particular seed mussel site. [44603/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 795 to 797, inclusive, together.

Sea-fishing boat licensing is the responsibility of the Licensing Authority for Sea-fishing Boats, which is independent in the exercise of its functions. The details of all currently registered Irish sea-fishing boats are available on the Irish Fishing Boat Register, which is published online: https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/seafood/seafisheriesadministration/seafisheriesadministration/seafishingfleetregister/

The monitoring and control of fishing vessels within Ireland’s Exclusive Fisheries Zone are matters for the Irish control authorities. Under the Sea Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Act, 2006, all operational issues concerning sea fisheries control are, as a matter of law, exclusively for the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) and the Naval Service. As Minister, I am precluded from getting involved in operational matters including those in relation to law enforcement. I will forward your query regarding vessel monitoring to the SFPA for direct response.

Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) issues regular publications on the economic output and performance for seafood production, including aquaculture. BIM also carries out survey programmes related to mussels and, from time to time, commissions reports on particular aspects of the mussel industry. BIM's publications in this regard can be found online at

http://www.bim.ie/our-publications/.

The Marine Institute generally advises on fisheries interactions with marine ecosystems.

The Sea-Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction (Mussel Seed) (Opening of Fisheries) Regulations 2019 (S.I. No. 464 of 2019), permits mussel seed fishing to take place from 20 September to 22 December 2019. Fishing is restricted to periods that are specified as suitable tides. The statutory instrument also identifies that such fishing is also restricted in a number of areas.

Beef Industry

Questions (798)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

798. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if correspondence (details supplied) will be reviewed; the steps he will take to ease the crisis on affected farmers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44673/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The beef sector is an important element of the Irish economy and I am conscious of the importance that this key sector plays in rural Ireland. I am keenly aware that the past year has been very challenging for beef farmers.

The Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM), which recently closed for applications, will provide temporary exceptional adjustment aid to farmers in the beef sector in Ireland subject to the conditions set out in EU Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/1132. BEAM is funded by a combination of EU aid and Exchequer support, provided in light of the difficult circumstances that Irish beef farmers have been facing as a result of the market volatility and uncertainty. Over 34,500 farmers had applied for BEAM at its closing date of 20 September, representing potential commitments of almost €78 million.

The Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) is currently the main support specifically targeted for the suckler sector, which provides Irish beef farmers with some €300 million in funding over the current RDP period.

This year, I introduced the exchequer-funded Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP), a €20 million scheme which will provide suckler farmers with valuable data on the weaning efficiency of their animals.

The Deputy will also be aware that my Department has rolled out a range of schemes as part of the €4 billion Rural Development Programme (RDP), 2014 - 2020. In addition to the BDGP, other supports which are available for beef farmers under Pillar II of the CAP include GLAS, Knowledge Transfer Groups and the ANC scheme.

The total budget for the Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) Scheme was increased again this year to €250 million. Further to changes in EU Regulations, payments under the ANC scheme will now be delivered in two instalments, with 85% advance payments issuing from mid-September and a 15% balancing payment issuing from early December.

Suckler farmers also benefit from the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and Greening payments under CAP Pillar I.

In recognising the major challenges faced by the farming sector and the important role that various schemes operated by my Department play in underpinning the viability of many farms, I secured agreement from the European Commission that will allow for a higher rate of advance payments under the 2019 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and a number of Rural Development Schemes.

The pursuit and development of new markets for Irish agri-food exports is a constant and central component of the strategic development of the industry, as evidenced by its placement at the centre of Food Wise 2025, the industry’s strategy for development. Food Wise 2025 prioritises the potential for growth in new and emerging markets.

My Department has also proactively engaged with several potential beef Producer Organisations, which have the possibility to strengthen the bargaining power of beef farmers in the supply chain. Two beef producer organisations have been formally recognised by my Department in recent months.

Information and Communications Technology

Questions (799)

Alan Kelly

Question:

799. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of computers in his Department that still use an operating system (details supplied) in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44703/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department is currently undertaking the upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10 across 211 locations nationwide. My Department has at total of 5,100 devices of which 2,950 currently use Windows 7 operating system. It is planned that the upgrade of these devices will be completed by Q2 2020.

Table:

Operating System

Number of devices as of 1/11/2019

%

Windows 7

2,950

57.84

Windows 10

2,150

42.16

Information and Communications Technology

Questions (800)

Alan Kelly

Question:

800. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his Department will not be forced to pay additional premium payments to a company (details supplied) once support for an operating system expires in January 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44719/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department has always sought to achieve best value for the tax payer by maximising the lifetime of its computer devices, thus reducing total cost of ownership.

It had been planned to have all devices upgraded before the withdrawal of Window 7 support. However, the need to divert resources to support my Department's Brexit plans extended the timeline of the Windows 10 upgrade, which will now be completed in Q2 2020.

Extended Windows 7 support will be necessary for a small number of devices. The cost will depend on progress with the rollout but is not likely to exceed €35,000 for 2020.

Information and Communications Technology

Questions (801)

Alan Kelly

Question:

801. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to protect his Department in the event of a malware attack or security risks as a result of the failure to upgrade computers from an operating system (details supplied) in his Department and the agencies under his remit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44735/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department is actively upgrading all of its (Windows) computer devices to Windows 10. This upgrade will be completed by Q2 2020.

Any devices not upgraded by the time Microsoft withdraws standard support for Windows 7, will use multiple layers of technology for protection including: -

- The purchase of on-going Windows 7 support for the small number of devices using this operating system

- The use of firewalls to protect the Department's IT network

- The use of spam filters on all mail servers which are continuously updated several times per day

- The use of anti-spyware and ant-imalware software on all devices on the Department’s network. These products are updated on a daily basis

In addition, my Department’s computer systems are independently certified to meet the ISO 27001:2013 Information Security Standard. My Department invests considerable resources to protect the information that it needs to support the wide range of activities that it carries out and has experienced and trained staff dedicated to the prevention/detection of and the response to any cybersecurity threats. My Department will also continue with its on-going training of staff in relation to the threats posed by malware, phishing attacks etc and on how to avoid these threats.

Bord na gCon

Questions (802)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

802. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the annual dividend return by Bord na gCon in each of the past 25 years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44755/19]

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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.

There is no legislative provision or requirement for Bord na gCon to make an annual dividend return.

Forestry Sector

Questions (803)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

803. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a decision will issue on a forestry application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44783/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department is required to carefully assess all forestry licence applications to ensure that, among other things, environmental and landscape considerations are taken into account and that appropriate prescribed bodies are fully consulted.

On the site in question, archaeological artefacts were identified and the application was therefore referred to my Department’s Archaeologist for their input. In tandem, the application was referred to prescribed bodies, An Taisce, the local authority and the relevant Inland Fisheries Board.

Following a discussion with the Registered Forester, consideration was given to changing the species to be planted. This was particularly important for this site, as the change was from conifer to broadleaves. This site is adjacent to a SAC and the choice of species was of the utmost importance, as it would feed into the Appropriate Assessment Screening. The applicant was contacted in November 2018, requesting a decision on the species.

In January 2019, correspondence from the Registered Forester noted that the applicant wished to continue with the species chosen. In March 2019, the applicant and Registered Forester were asked to resubmit information in view of the surrounding SAC. A Natura Impact Statement (NIS) was also requested and received from the applicant.

The information received is currently being examined by my Department.

Departmental Staff Data

Questions (804)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

804. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of full and part-time staff employed in his Department; the number of such staff being paid at the minimum wage rate of pay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44838/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The number of full and part-time staff employed by my Department are shown in the table below:

Category

No. of Staff

Full-Time

3,045

Part-Time

512

Grand Total

3,557

There are currently no staff in this Department being paid at the National Minimum Wage rate of pay.

Animal Carcase Disposal

Questions (805)

Brendan Smith

Question:

805. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the outcome of discussions between his officials and an association (details supplied) regarding funding for the industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44872/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Officials from my Department, recognising and acknowledging the concerns raised in relation to the challenges facing the knackery industry, have met with the Animal Collectors Association (ACA) on a number of occasions since August 2019.

My Department is committed to putting together a scheme that will provide for significant financial support to the knackery industry to stabilise the industry and to restore a level of competitiveness to this difficult, but vitally important, industry.

My Department held the latest in a series of constructive meetings with the ACA on Monday 21st October and both parties have committed to meet again this month to continue discussions.

GLAS Appeals

Questions (806)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

806. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a decision will be made in relation to a GLAS appeal for a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44883/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named was selected for an on-farm inspection and subsequently submitted a detailed review request in relation to a penalty under the coppicing of hedgerow action of the GLAS contract.

The review requested will now be carried out. Once this process has concluded, a decision will issue to the person named.

GLAS Appeals

Questions (807)

Seán Fleming

Question:

807. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a GLAS appeal will be finalised for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44890/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named submitted an appeal to the Agriculture Appeals Office in relation to the Department’s decision to refuse an application for Force Majeure following the termination of the GLAS contract in this case.

That office will notify the person named, in writing, of the outcome of the appeal in due course.