GLAS Issues

Questions (467)

Dara Calleary

Question:

467. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will consider an amendment to the GLAS scheme to compensate GLAS or other scheme participants who lose a portion or their entire payments as a consequence of land given over for the construction of a greenway, cycleway or walkway; the number of GLAS applicants that have had their payments reduced owing to portions of land given over for a greenway by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51144/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

GLAS is a voluntary Scheme where participants choose to carry out specific environmental commitments for a minimum period of five years. All areas claimed under GLAS are checked annually against the eligible area declared under the Basic Payment Scheme. Where the original GLAS area is reduced, the annual GLAS payment is reduced pro rata to the area removed and aid previously paid must be reimbursed.

This reimbursement of aid is not required in certain circumstances, including “expropriation of a large part of the holding if such expropriation could not have been anticipated on joining the schemes”. However, the obligation is on the participant to apply to the GLAS section to avail of this and each request is examined on a case-by-case basis.

The Department does not compile data relating to the reduction of GLAS claims due to construction of a greenway, cycleway or walkway.

Agrifood Sector

Questions (468)

Niall Collins

Question:

468. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason members of an association (details supplied) are not included in the stakeholder committee that will develop the agrifood strategy to 2030; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51181/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I was pleased to announce the membership of the Stakeholder Committee that will develop Ireland's agri-food strategy to 2030, under the chairmanship of Mr Tom Arnold. The strategy will outline the vision and key objectives, with associated actions, required to ensure the economic, environmental and social sustainability of the agri-food sector in the decade ahead.

In deciding on the membership of the Committee, I was mindful of ensuring a broad representation of stakeholders from right across the agriculture, food, forestry and fisheries sectors. It was not possible to include all interested groups on the Committee and I have not included professional representative bodies on the group. I am satisfied that the current composition is sufficiently representative and I have no plans to extend membership outside of those already nominated.

The association concerned made a submission to the public consultation process which I launched in July and participated in the Open Policy Debate which I hosted for 400 delegates from across the Irish agri-food sector in the Aviva Stadium in October.

Live Exports

Questions (469)

Martin Ferris

Question:

469. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the efforts being made to ensure live crab exports to China will resume as soon as possible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51190/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, SFPA, issued a notice to trade on 21 November 2019 setting out the changes that will be implemented in December to transition to the application of new requirements for the certification of Irish crab exports, including under Regulation (EU) 2017/625. The SFPA has statutory responsibility for seafood safety controls and the enforcement of seafood safety law. While I, as Minister, retain the power to give general policy directives, that power is qualified. I am precluded by statute from interfering in the performance by the SFPA of a function assigned to it or exercising any power or control in relation to individual or groups of cases with which the Authority may be concerned.

On 28 November 2019, I arranged a briefing session for Oireachtas members where officials from my Department briefed a number of deputies on the current status regarding the Irish Crab Exports. On the same day I discussed the issues with the National Inshore Fisheries Forum, the representatives of the inshore fishing industry for whom crab is an important source of income, during our meeting. The SFPA was also present at the meeting and dealt directly with questions on the certification issues.

I have led two Trade Missions to China this year to strengthen and develop the existing important relationships between both countries. Bord Bia has implemented a series of instore retail promotions in core European markets in 2019 to drive sales of Irish brown crab in Europe. Targeted trade show initiatives have been led by Bord Bia around Europe to maintain and enhance Irish crab opportunities in the core European markets including France and Spain. In 2020, Bord Bia will increase the pace of its promotional activities in its core European markets whilst, at the same time, continuing with its efforts across a range of emerging markets for Irish brown crab across Asia.

TAMS Applications

Questions (470)

John McGuinness

Question:

470. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when applicants under TAMS will be notified of the outcome of their applications and the grant amounts being approved; and if an application under TAMS by a person (details supplied) will be expedited. [51319/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The persons named submitted an application for grant-aid under the Young Farmer Capital Investment Scheme. This application has now passed all the administrative checks and the ranking and selection process.

The application is subject to a further final technical examination and, if successful, approval will issue to the above named shortly.

Live Exports

Questions (471)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

471. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he is taking to maintain the exports of Irish brown crab to the Chinese market in view of the fact fishermen rely on this species for an income (details supplied); the reason the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority, SFPA, changed the procedure for the Irish sector by insisting that the export health certificate would only be issued on production of a compliant cadmium result from a sample submitted for testing by the Marine Institute; if the SFPA was offered an opportunity to join fellow EU agencies engaging with the Chinese authorities to have the standard for cadmium adjusted to bring it in line with EU regulations; the position decided upon by the Irish authorities on this latter point; and if the authorities consulted with fishing representative stakeholders in forming this position. [51381/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, SFPA, issued a notice to trade on 21 November 2019 setting out the changes that will be implemented in December to transition to the application of new requirements for the certification of Irish crab exports, including under Regulation (EU) 2017/625. The SFPA has statutory responsibility for seafood safety controls and the enforcement of seafood safety law. While I, as Minister, retain the power to give general policy directives, that power is qualified. I am precluded by statute from interfering in the performance by the SFPA of a function assigned to it or exercising any power or control in relation to individual or groups of cases with which the Authority may be concerned.

On 28 November 2019, I arranged a briefing session for Oireachtas members where officials from my Department briefed a number of deputies on the current status regarding the Irish Crab Exports. On the same day, I discussed the issues with the National Inshore Fisheries Forum, the representatives of the inshore fishing industry for whom crab is an important source of income, during our meeting. The SFPA was also present at the meeting and dealt directly with questions on the certification issues.

I have led two Trade Missions to China this year to strengthen and develop the existing important relationships between both countries. Bord Bia has implemented a series of instore retail promotions in core European markets in 2019 to drive sales of Irish brown crab in Europe. Targeted trade show initiatives have been led by Bord Bia around Europe to maintain and enhance Irish crab opportunities in the core European markets including France and Spain. In 2020, Bord Bia will increase the pace of its promotional activities in its core European markets whilst, at the same time, continuing with its efforts across a range of emerging markets for Irish brown crab across Asia.

Common Agricultural Policy Negotiations

Questions (472)

Carol Nolan

Question:

472. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the existing CAP budget will be maintained; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51383/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The European Commission has proposed, as part of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021 - 2027, an approximate cut of 5% to the CAP budget post-2020. The proposed cut is unacceptable for Ireland and I have used every opportunity in the course of discussions on the CAP post-2020 to call for the budget to be maintained.

While final agreement on the MFF proposals is ultimately a matter for Heads of State and Government to decide upon, I have been working very hard with my Agriculture Ministerial colleagues in an effort to build and maintain momentum around the need to have a strong CAP budget post 2020.

At the October Agri Fish Council, I joined with sixteen of my colleagues in reiterating the call we made in Madrid in mid-2018 for the post-2020 CAP budget to be maintained at current levels. In addition, at the last Agri-Fish Council in November, I again made the point during a discussion on environmental and climate-related aspects that higher levels of climate ambition have to be matched by a strong CAP budget post-2020. These follow other similar calls that I have made at previous Council meetings on the matter.

I have also discussed the matter on a number of occasions with the previous Commissioner for Agriculture, Phil Hogan, and I intend to continue these discussions with the new Commissioner for Agriculture, Janus Wojciechowski, at the earliest possible opportunity.

I will continue these efforts as the negotiations on the post-2020 CAP and on the future budget intensify over the coming months.

Knowledge Transfer Programme

Questions (473)

Carol Nolan

Question:

473. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the knowledge transfer scheme that assists farmers in increasing efficiency and profitability will be rolled over until the CAP is agreed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51384/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Knowledge Transfer (KT) Programme is set out in the Rural Development Programme (RDP), 2014-20200 as a three year programme, and has recently completed its third year. The EU Commission has recently presented proposals for the transitional rules for the period between this Common Agricultural Policy and its successor. These proposals include, inter alia, the option to extend the current RDP in certain circumstances.

However, agreement on this regulation is not expected until Summer 2020 and is subject to agreement on the EU budget. The discussions on this proposal are complex and are due to continue over the coming months. The arrangements for specific schemes will be clarified when there is further clarity on the proposed regulation.

However, I am favourably disposed to the knowledge transfer scheme, and will consider the inclusion of such a measure in any transitional arrangements, subject to legislative and budgetary considerations.

Agriculture Schemes

Questions (474)

Carol Nolan

Question:

474. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the greening payment will be rolled over; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51385/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Greening scheme, introduced in 2015, delivers over €360 million on an annual basis to Irish farmers. Under Greening, farmers - in particular arable farmers - have specific obligations in terms of the number of crops and the amount of ecological focus area that they must have on their holding.

In 2020, Greening along with the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) will continue. Therefore, obligations that existed heretofore under Greening will still apply.

At a farmer level, the greening payment is calculated as a top-up payment of approximately 44% of the BPS payment.

GLAS Issues

Questions (475)

Carol Nolan

Question:

475. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the GLAS scheme will be extended until a new payment is in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51386/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I want to take this opportunity to emphasise my commitment to agri-environment schemes in general which recognise the vital role farmers play in delivering public goods which will enhance Ireland’s sustainability credentials into the future.

My Department has a strong record in the delivery of agri-environmental schemes including the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS), the Agri Environment Options Scheme (AEOS) and the current Green Low Carbon Agri -Environment Scheme (GLAS). I am cognisant that GLAS, which was introduced under the Rural Development Programme for the period 2014-2020, was availed of by some 50,000 farmers, all of whom will be especially interested in the proposals for the transition period to the new CAP. I am continuing to work with the Commission and my European Ministerial colleagues to reach agreement on these important legislative proposals and provide certainty to Irish farmers.

The EU Commission is currently progressing two proposals for CAP transitional rules. Such transitional measures are normal practice between consecutive programming periods, to provide legal and financial certainty where a gap arises due to any delays in finalising a new EU Budget and CAP regulations. While the Council has accepted the need for such proposals and broadly welcomed them, discussions are ongoing.

One of the proposals, presented in the form of a draft regulation, provides the option to extend the current Rural Development Programme, in certain circumstances. It aims at providing certainty on the process around granting of support for the year 2021. Agreement on this regulation is not expected to be achieved until Summer 2020, subject to agreement on the EU budget. The transitional regulations are complex and a number of issues need to be considered in more detail, in relation to the Rural Development Programme and how the transitional regulation will work in practice.

The draft proposals provide for an additional, transitional year before starting the new CAP. Any extension of GLAS would need to take place within the framework of these measures. The proposals will be discussed by Member States over the coming months, and my officials are actively assessing their content.

However, I am favourably disposed to the GLAS scheme, and will consider the inclusion of such a measure in any transitional arrangements, subject to legislative and budgetary considerations.

TB Eradication Scheme

Questions (476)

Carol Nolan

Question:

476. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will provide clarity in respect of the proposed two TB tests for cattle; the stage and circumstances these two TB tests will have to be taken; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51387/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

New EU bovine TB rules are contained in the Delegated Act (DA) on Part II of Regulation (EU) 2016/429 on surveillance, eradication programmes and free status of animal diseases. The original proposals from the EU Commission were quite severe and would have had a significant negative impact on Irish farmers. The original draft proposals included:

- 12 month minimum TB restriction period

- Prohibition on any inward/outward movement in restricted herds

- Derestriction only to occur following two clear tests 6 months apart

- Compulsory 30-day pre/post movement test in ALL cases

During the negotiation of the legal text, my officials engaged intensively with Commission counterparts and experts from other Member States on this issue. Ireland was successful in achieving considerable changes to the draft TB regulations to the benefit of Irish farmers in negotiations on all points but one - which though modified did not fully meet our requests.

The current draft text retains the 30 day pre/post movement test requirement, however only where the animal and the herd of origin have not been tested in the last 6 months. My officials had proposed the introduction of risk-based pre/post movement testing, supported by peer-reviewed scientific research undertaken in Ireland. Our analysis shows that this approach would be more effective than across-the-board pre/post movement testing. There has been very limited support from other Member States for our position.

Ireland has approximately 2.2 million movements (counting farm-to-farm and farm-to-mart-to-farm each as one movement for these purposes) per year - not all of these existing movements would have been affected by the proposed measures. The new rule would mean that these movements would have to either take place within 6 months of the herd test, or the herdowner (buyer or seller) would have to have a pre/post movement test carried out.

TB Eradication Scheme

Questions (477)

Carol Nolan

Question:

477. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason for the introduction of two TB tests; if it is to meet standards of the Chinese market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51388/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

New bovine TB rules are contained in the Delegated Act (DA) on Part II of Regulation (EU) 2016/429 on surveillance, eradication programmes and free status of animal diseases. The original proposals from the EU Commission were quite severe and would have had a significant negative impact on Irish farmers. The original draft proposals included:

- 12 month minimum TB restriction period

- Prohibition on any inward/outward movement in restricted herds

- Derestriction only to occur following two clear tests 6 months apart

- Compulsory 30-day pre/post movement test in ALL cases

During the negotiation of the legal text, my officials engaged intensively with Commission counterparts and experts from other Member States on this issue. Ireland was successful in achieving considerable changes to the draft TB regulations to the benefit of Irish farmers in negotiations on all points but one - which though modified did not fully meet our requests.

The current draft text retains the 30 day pre/post movement test requirement, however only where the animal and the herd of origin have not been tested in the last 6 months. My officials had proposed the introduction of risk-based pre/post movement testing, supported by peer-reviewed scientific research undertaken in Ireland. Our analysis shows that this approach would be more effective than across-the-board pre/post movement testing. There has been very limited support from other Member States for our position.

Ireland has approximately 2.2 million movements (counting farm-to-farm and farm-to-mart-to-farm each as one movement for these purposes) per year - not all of these existing movements would have been affected by the proposed measures. The new rule would mean that these movements would have to either take place within 6 months of the herd test, or the herdowner (buyer or seller) would have to have a pre/post movement test carried out.

In summary, therefor, there is no EU proposal for two TB herd tests. This current proposal is un-related to the requirements of the Chinese market.

Live Exports

Questions (478)

Carol Nolan

Question:

478. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to increase the export of calves in early 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51389/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Live exports are a critical part of Ireland’s livestock industry. They play a significant role in stimulating price competition and providing an alternative market outlet for farmers. Whilst trade is a commercial activity on the part of private individuals, my Department facilitates this trade, recognising its importance to the agri-food sector, while placing a strong emphasis at all times on the welfare of animals being transported.

In 2018, overall live exports of cattle increased by over 30% compared to 2017, to 246,000 head. This growth trend has continued into 2019, with live exports at 279,000 head to mid-November, up 20% in relation to the same period last year. Exports of calves have increased by nearly 25% year-on-year, to 197,261 to date in 2019.

My Department will continue to prioritise efforts to deepen existing markets and gain access to new markets. Last month, I led a trade mission to the Netherlands to meet the main importers of Irish calves. All parties emphasised the importance of calf welfare during transport, and Dutch industry representatives reported that Irish calves travel and arrive in very good condition.

With regard to lairage capacity in Cherbourg, my Department have worked closely with the French authorities, and earlier this year, the French authorities approved an increase in holding capacity of the Qualivia 2 Control Post in Cherbourg. This provided for additional daily capacity for 400 animals, providing additional capacity of some 1,200 animals per week. I have encouraged all stakeholders involved in the export trade to liaise with commercial lairage operators in Cherbourg with the aim of developing further capacity.

The recent establishment of the Irish Livestock Exporters' Association is to be welcomed. This body can represent the industry’s views, not just to my Department, but also to ferry companies, port authorities, lairage operators and other stakeholders. At its request, I met the new Association in September to discuss a number of industry concerns and members of the Association accompanied me on my recent trade mission to the Netherlands.

With regard to welfare during transport, on 5th December I issued a notice informing live exporters and transporters of amendments to my Department's transport policy with regard to cattle and sheep. These include a range of measures such as increasing the minimum space allowance in vehicles for calves and setting longer rest periods in control posts in Cherbourg. Full details are available on my Department's website at the following link

https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/animaltransport/latestimportantnewsfortransporters/.

Departmental Advertising Campaigns

Questions (479)

Niall Collins

Question:

479. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the advertising campaigns, promotional events and launches planned by his Department for the first six months of 2020; the budgeted costs of these campaigns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51402/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The vast bulk of my Department's advertising is in respect of press notices in the specialised farming press, provincial and national newspapers. This expenditure includes the publication of Statutory Notices that are required to comply with various national and EU legislative requirements. 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.

In the first half of 2020, my Department will continue to place public information notices as required and will continue to undertake communications in respect of priorities for my Department including Brexit Preparedness, CAP Post-2020, One Health and Climate Action and Environment.

Data Sharing Arrangements

Questions (480)

Jack Chambers

Question:

480. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the data sharing agreements his Department has in place with organisations that are not other Departments or State agencies; the purpose of these data sharing agreements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51419/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The disclosure of personal information to third parties by my Department occurs only in instances where there is a clear legislative basis to do so, or where this is a requirement as part of the performance of a contract.

In instances where personal data is included in the data to be shared, compliance with the Data Protection legislation is an incumbent part of the process and clearly outlined in the written agreement in place prior to any transfer occurring.

It is the policy of the Department that in instances of processing and sharing data externally, that Department guidelines must be adhered to through written agreements. These agreements include a number of key points such as:

- the purpose for which the data is to be shared;

- the security arrangements that will be in place to protect this data;

- contract termination dates;

- the arrangements for the destruction of data once the processing/contract is complete.

Concerning the sharing of data (including personal data) with commercial operators or service providers through the execution of goods or services contracts put in place following procurement, my Department primarily uses the contract templates and confidentiality agreement templates issued by the Office of Government Procurement (OGP). These templates contain data protection clauses and schedules which serve to ensure that the contractual relationship is compliant with data protection obligations. The Department has also developed a suite of contract and confidentiality agreement templates for low-value goods and services procurements. These templates contain identical data protection clauses and schedules to those contained in the templates issued by the Office of Government Procurement. In addition, where restricted information may be required to be shared, an additional confidentiality agreement document in addition to the OGP suite of templates is required. These agreements are in place, inter alia, with third parties involved in ensuring food safety and authenticity within the Agri food sector.

My Department has also successfully achieved and continues to maintain ISO 27001/2013 Information Security Certification which further supports its commitment to the protection of all data in its possession.

Freedom of Information Data

Questions (481)

Jack Chambers

Question:

481. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of freedom of information requests in which his Department made a decision to deny; and the number in which the Information Commissioner overturned the decision of his Department in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019. [51453/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The number of Freedom of Information requests refused by my Department from 2016 to date is set out below.

2016 - 44

2017 - 59

2018 - 61

2019 - 48 (to 04/12/2019)

The Office of the Information Commission overturned one request in 2016 and two in 2018. No decisions were overturned in 2017 or in 2019 to date, but investigations are currently ongoing in respect of two appeals submitted during 2019.

Felling Licences Applications

Questions (482, 483)

Carol Nolan

Question:

482. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason for the delay for the renewal and extension of tree felling licences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51484/19]

View answer

Carol Nolan

Question:

483. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if registered companies and sawmills involved in tree felling will be granted extended licences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51485/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 482 and 483 together.

Tree felling licences issued under the Forestry Act, 2014 may have a duration of up to 10 years and may cover several operations, such as thinning followed by clear fell in later years. Licences issued under the Act may be extended for up to a further five years, beyond the initial validity period. Tree felling licences are issued for the benefit of the applicant i.e. the forest owner and not a forestry company or saw mill.

I accept that delays in issuing licences can impact forestry companies in terms of clear-fell and harvesting work and sawmills in terms of a supply of raw material. I acknowledge that changes made to internal Appropriate Assessment Procedures (AAP) has resulted in delays to many files, which is beyond my Department’s control.

Officials are obliged to implement changes to AAP that were required following important Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) decisions and their subsequent interpretation by the Forestry Appeals Committee (FAC) and others. These changes have been implemented, but it will take time to work through the backlog created, while new procedures were developed.

All forestry licences issued by the Department undergo a legal consent process. Since 2017, all forestry licence applications received have been subject to a statutory public notification system and are subject to a statutory appeal system operated by the FAC.

Most appeals have been in connection with our Appropriate Assessment (AA) procedures. The Habitats Directive (Article 6.3) requires that where a plan or project is likely to have a significant effect on a Natura site, either individually or in-combination with other plans or projects, it must undergo an appropriate assessment of its implications for that Natura site.

AA procedures have been amended to introduce a robust and workable system which will address the issues now faced. Introducing this system involved the recruitment of additional ecological expertise and changes in procedures for the forestry inspectorate. Interviews are taking place for additional ecologists under a recently advertised competition. I expect the successful candidates will be deployed early in the new year. Forestry district inspectors have undergone training and are continuing to receive support in delivering the new procedures. A categorisation of files affected by these requirements is underway in order to best assess further action needed and by whom. Officials of my Department have met bilaterally with forestry companies, to examine the applications on hand and to assess their backlogs with a view to moving applications forward.

The Deputy should be aware that notwithstanding the above, my Department has issued over 3,900 tree felling licences so far this year.

Departmental Agencies Data

Questions (484)

James Browne

Question:

484. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the agencies or organisations under the remit of his Department; the number that have boards; the number of positions on each board; the number of vacant positions; and the agencies or organisations that have boards whose members have an obligation to appear before committees of the Houses of the Oireachtas. [51487/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

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

Name of Board

Number on the Board

Number of Vacancies

Bord na gCon

7

1

Irish National Stud

7

None

Horse Racing Ireland

14

None

National Milk Agency

Part -Time Chairman and 13 Ordinary Board Members

None

Bord Bia

15

1

Coillte

9

2

Teagasc

11

None

Aquaculture Licences Appeals Board - ALAB

7

1

Bord Iascaigh Mhara - BIM

6

1

Marine Institute - MI

9

None

Sea Fisheries Protection Authority - SFPA

3

1

Veterinary Council of Ireland

19

None

Accountability to Dail Committees: The Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies states that Persons being proposed by Ministers for appointment as Chairpersons of State bodies are required to make themselves available to the appropriate Oireachtas Committee to discuss the approach they will take to their role as Chairperson and their views about the future contribution of the body or Board.

The governing legislation establishing most public bodies makes the CEO of the body accountable to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Oireachtas. This is on the basis that the financial statements of the State body are audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General and laid before the Oireachtas in accordance with the State body’s governing legislation.

Organic Farming Scheme Eligibility

Questions (485)

Pat Breen

Question:

485. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason a person (details supplied) has not been facilitated in respect of farming costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51524/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My colleague Minister Doyle established an Organics Strategy Group last year comprising relevant stakeholders and state bodies. Part of the remit of the Strategy Group was to consider the case for a possible re-opening of the Organic Farming Scheme. They recommended that it should be re-opened but on a targeted basis. The sectors targeted were areas for which there is a clear market demand, and which are critical to the further development of the Organic Sector, namely horticulture, cereals and dairy. This recommendation acknowledged that the budget was very limited given the success of the current scheme and the overall spending within the RDP.

Based on this recommendation, my colleague Minister Doyle re-opened the Scheme on a targeted basis in November, 2018.

In order to be eligible for consideration for entry into the Scheme, applicants were required to have an organic licence from 1 January 2019 and also to have the required educational qualification by 1 September 2019.

The terms and conditions of the Scheme state that an applicant must reach a minimum ranking of 25 marks to be deemed eligible for consideration for inclusion in the Scheme. They further state that the number of applications to be accepted into the Scheme will be determined by funding and that the submission of a valid application does not guarantee entry to the Scheme.

The person named did not score high enough to be selected in this tranche. Their score was below the minimum score that was ultimately accepted into the Scheme. Furthermore, it is important to note that the predominant enterprise on the holding in question was not one of the targeted sectors.

I would expect that there will be a new iteration of an Organics scheme under the next CAP and I would encourage all stakeholders to engage with the ongoing CAP consultation process to ensure that they can best inform the shape of any new scheme.

Departmental Staff Data

Questions (486)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

486. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the budget and number of staff working in his Department in each of the years 2014 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51558/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The table below lists the number of staff in my Department from 2014 to 2019:

DAFM Staff Headcount Figures

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

3,196

3,139

3,124

3,252

3,369

3,581

The table below lists the staffing budget for my Department from 2014 to 2019:

DAFM Staffing Budget Amounts (€M) *

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019**

€161. 0

€162.7

€156. 0

€159.1

€169.4

€170.8

* These figures include basic pay, allowances, and PRSI, in €m rounded to 1 decimal place.

**Please note the 2019 amount is up to and including 20-12-2019