EU Directives

Questions (283, 286)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

283. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason farmers are being informed that EU priority habitats of community importance (details supplied) are ineligible for CAP funding in view of the fact EU governing regulations listed in Annex 1 of the Habitats Directive show such sites as being eligible; the reason farmers are being informed that EU treaties and laws agreed to preserve and maintain EU sites of community importance compel them to preserve and maintain their properties for free; the treaty or law in which such a policy was agreed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26015/20]

View answer

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

286. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the agricultural appeals office is complying with EU law and governing regulations when making decisions on appeals regarding payments denied to farmers for preserving EU designated priority habitats of community importance; if it is policy to drive farmers that own such sites off their land by withholding EU funding from them (details supplied); his views on whether the EU Commission has been misled by the State on the environmental protection policy being implemented here; if Ireland is in breach of the birds and habitats directives which result in the imposition of millions of euros in fines from by the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26101/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 283 and 286 together.

In the first instance, my Department does not have a role in the designation of lands under the EU directives relevant to the Deputy’s questions. This is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government as the National Parks and Wildlife Service falls under the remit of that Department

However, there are a number of issues which are of direct relevance to the area-based schemes implemented by my Department in order to provide support to farmers.

Eligibility for payments under EU funded area-based schemes such as the Basic Payment Scheme and the Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme is established under Article 32.1 of Regulation 1307/2013 which provides that “Support under the basic payment scheme shall be granted to farmers, ....... upon activation of a payment entitlement per eligible hectare ....”

The definition of an eligible hectare is set out in article 32.2.(a) and (b) of this regulation. An eligible hectare is defined as (a) “any agricultural area of the holding, ........ that is used for an agricultural activity or, where the area is also used for non-agricultural activities, is predominantly used for agricultural activities” and (b) “any area which gave a right to payments in 2008 under the single payment scheme ... and no longer complies with the definition of 'eligible hectare' under point (a) as a result of the implementation of Directive 92/43/EEC, Directive 2000/60/EC and Directive 2009/147/EC.”

Article 4.1.(c) provides the definition of an agricultural activity as “(i) production, rearing or growing of agricultural products, including harvesting, milking, breeding animals, and keeping animals for farming purposes, (ii) maintaining an agricultural area in a state which makes it suitable for grazing or cultivation without preparatory action going beyond usual agricultural methods and machineries, based on criteria established by Member States on the basis of a framework established by the Commission”

Article 4.1.(e) of that regulation provides a definition of agricultural area as “ any area taken up by arable land, permanent grassland and permanent pasture, or permanent crops”.

With regard to 4.1 (c) (ii), Ireland has defined that the usual agricultural methods and machineries are topping, spraying, mulching and legal burning.

In determining the area of land eligible for payment under the relevant area based schemes, the Department deducts ineligible features from the gross area of the parcel. These include non-agricultural area (e.g. raised bog and areas that are too wet for animals or machinery to access), fenced off areas, hard features like buildings and rock, and the area of the parcel that is covered in scrub or other non-forage vegetation. In addition any land where there is no agricultural activity (abandoned land) is deducted.

Where a farmer claims on land in an area protected under Directive 92/43/EEC, and/or Directive 2009/147/EC, payment is made on such land where it is agricultural land, with an agricultural activity and where it gave right to a payment and was claimed for payment in 2008. For this land, non agricultural areas along with hard features are deducted. The area covered in scrub or other non forage vegetations within the parcel is also deducted unless “Activities Requiring Consent” (ARCs) for Special Protection Areas or “Notifiable Actions” (NAs) for Special Areas of Conservation specifically forbid the cutting or removal of such vegetation. In addition, the area that was covered in ineligible features in 2008 is also deducted as these areas could not give a right to payment in 2008.

The habitats that are protected under these EU directives developed over a long period of time in conjunction with agricultural activities, which also sustained economically important farming activities and in most cases they require agricultural activities in order to be sustained as habitats. Payment may only be made for parcels with no agricultural activity in cases where the ARCs or NAs prevent the farmer carrying on an agricultural activity. In all other cases where there is no agricultural activity payment cannot be made as set out in article 32 of regulation 1307/3023.

It should also be noted that one of the four objectives of the Green, Low, Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) administered by my Department is to contribute to positive environmental management of farmed Natura 2000 sites and river catchments in the implementation of the EU Directives in question. This is achieved through compensating farmers for actions such as Farmland Habitat (Private Natura) where applicants manage the land to avoid farming practices that cause environmental damage and protect vulnerable habitats such as wetlands, which in turn helps to safeguard animals and plants which occupy them. This action may also be chosen in conjunction with any of the Farmland Bird, Bat or Bee actions also available under GLAS.

In relation to the part of the questions relating the work of the Agriculture Appeals Office (AAO), I wish to inform the Deputy that the AAO operates independently of my Department. The Director and the Appeals Officers carry out their functions in accordance with the provisions of the Agriculture Appeals Act 2001 and the Agriculture Appeals Regulations 2002. There are distinct and specific statutory functions assigned to the officials delivering the appeals service which require the Appeals Officers and the Director under law to be independent in the performance of their functions when making determinations on appeals made by affected persons against decisions taken by the Department.

Appeals Officers are required to have regard to the principles of natural justice and to comply with the terms and conditions and EU regulations applying to the Department schemes when considering and making decisions on appeals. I have been advised by the Director that she is satisfied that the Agriculture Appeals Office is carrying out its functions as required under the governing legislation.

Land Issues

Questions (284)

Dara Calleary

Question:

284. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of hectares of farmland that have been lost to erosion and notified to his Department via changes in land parcel information by county in tabular form; if he will consider a scheme to assist farmers whose land is affected by erosion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26021/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The issue of coastal erosion is primarily one for the Local Authorities who have mitigation and control plans in place.

The Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS) is the mapping system used by my Department to manage the various area-based farmer schemes that it operates such as the Basic Payment Scheme, Greening and the Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme.

My Department updates the land parcel boundaries on the LPIS when land ceases to be involved in agricultural production. In circumstances where land is eroded, and where the Department identifies such changes, the area is excluded from the area eligible for payment. Where these updates are made, the reason for the change (e.g. erosion, buildings, farm roads etc.) is not recorded. Hence, my Department does not hold data specific to the issue of coastal erosion or soil erosion in general.

My Department has engaged with local communities impacted by recent landslides to ensure that the payments to these farmers are not impacted by these exceptional circumstances.

Coillte Teoranta

Question No. 286 answered with Question No. 283.

Questions (285)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

285. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will address a series of matters in relation to Coillte Nature (details supplied). [26044/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Coillte is a commercial State body under the aegis of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. It is operationally independent of my Department and I understand that they have responded to the issues raised which are within their remit, by letter dated 23rd July 2020, addressed to the Deputy.

I welcome the establishment of Coillte Nature in June 2019 and the recent launch of the Dublin Mountains Conversion Plan. One fifth of Coillte lands are currently managed with biodiversity as the primary objective and Coillte Nature has been established to deliver projects with a singular environmental focus, with the Dublin Mountains initiative being one of the four key projects currently being undertaken.

Coillte currently have applications in relation to the Dublin Mountains submitted to my Department under the Native Woodland Conservation Scheme. The Native Woodland Conservation Scheme aims to promote the protection and enhancement of Ireland's native woodlands and biodiversity by supporting the appropriate restoration of existing native woodlands and, where appropriate, the conversion of existing non-native forests to native woodland.

Coillte is converting part of the sitka spruce forests in the Dublin Mountains to native woodlands under the Dublin Mountains Conversion Plan. The Native Woodland Conservation Scheme is designed to cover the cost above and beyond what standard reforestation would cost i.e. additional costs associated with reforesting with native species and other expenses such as extended periods of vegetation management, higher rates of tree mortality and the need for more expensive deer fencing.

In view of Ireland's commitments in relation to biodiversity, the restoration and conversion to native woodlands is to be encouraged. Initiatives such as those in the Dublin Mountains are an important contribution to our ongoing efforts to restore Ireland's native woodland resource.

Question No. 286 answered with Question No. 283.

GLAS Issues

Questions (287)

Claire Kerrane

Question:

287. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if farmers are given an opportunity to rectify works uncompleted before being penalised under the rules of the GLAS scheme in cases in which the criteria of the scheme have not been established; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26139/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

For certain GLAS actions, where the applicant is found at inspection not to have carried out their commitments in full compliance with the scheme specifications, a Remedial Action Letter can be issued. This letter is issued where the GLAS work was undertaken but not to the required specification.

The time frame for the remedial action to be completed is dependent on both the action in question and the specific issue identified by the Inspector. The Remedial Action Letter will notify the applicant of the date by which the work must be carried out. If the declaration from the applicant stating that the works have been completed has not been received by this date, the appropriate non-compliance penalty will be applied.

Animal Diseases

Questions (288, 300)

Denis Naughten

Question:

288. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the way in which he plans to ensure that the new antiparasitic medicine regime to be implemented from January 2022 retains a substantive role for existing stakeholders and delivers value for money for farmers here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26164/20]

View answer

Brendan Smith

Question:

300. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will ensure that suitably qualified persons, licensed merchant stores and veterinary pharmacies will be able to continue the prescribing and supply of anthelmintics; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26213/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 288 and 300 together.

EU Regulation 2019/6 on veterinary medicinal products comes into effect in January 2022. This Regulation is binding in full and has direct effect on all Member States.

Two issues have now arisen

1. The new requirement under EU Law for a veterinary prescription to be issued before antiparasitic products can be dispensed and

2. The question as to whether Ireland can avail of a derogation in the Regulation which permits professionals other than veterinarians to issue veterinary prescriptions.

In relation to the first issue, since 2004 European legislation established a requirement that all veterinary medicinal products that are intended for use in food-producing animals should be subject to a veterinary prescription. However, a 2006 EU Directive allowed for the maintenance of non-prescription status for certain veterinary medicinal products which did not present a risk to human or animal health or to the environment. Ireland availed of the exemption in Directive 2006/130/EC at the time and antiparasitics were allowed to continue to be available without prescription.

There is a similar exemption available under the new EU Regulation 2019/6. However, since that time, our knowledge regarding the impact of extensive use of antiparasitics has changed. In 2019, the Health Product Regulatory Authority’s (HPRA) Advisory Committee for Veterinary Medicines (ACVM) established a Task Force to review the method of supply of antiparasitic veterinary medicinal products that are intended for food-producing animals against the criteria set out in Regulation 2019/6. A copy of the Report is available on the HPRA’s website www.hpra.ie.

The Report states that the available scientific evidence shows that antiparasitic veterinary medicines that are intended for use in food-producing species do not comply with the criteria for derogation from veterinary prescription specified in EU Regulation 2019/6. Therefore antiparasitic veterinary medicines must require a veterinary prescription before they can be dispensed from January 2022. Ireland has no national discretion on this issue.

On the second issue, there is a separate derogation in the Regulation, which allows professionals other than veterinarians to issue veterinary prescriptions, in limited circumstances, but only if this was provided for in a Member State's national legislation prior to Regulation 2019/6 coming into force in January 2019.

Ireland's national legislation has never permitted anyone other than a veterinarian to issue a veterinary prescription. Therefore, Ireland has no national discretion to now provide for a regime which would permit Responsible Persons in Licensed Merchants or pharmacists to dispense antiparasitic veterinary medicines without a veterinary prescription issued by a veterinarian.

I recognise these legislative changes will result in challenges for all impacted stakeholders. In recognition of this, my Department has established an Antiparasitic Resistance Stakeholder Group chaired by the Chief Veterinary Officer. Two meetings have been held to date and a programme of work containing over 30 antiparasitic related projects is currently underway. This group will examine all the issues related to the changed route of supply with two principal objectives

- Protecting the efficacy of antiparasitics which are critical to the Irish pasture-based production model.

- Establishing a regulatory system that is pragmatic, retains a substantive role for existing stakeholders and delivers value for money for farmers

My Department is fully committed to working with all stakeholders in considering how best to implement the new EU Regulations on veterinary medicinal products. There is a dedicated email address allowing communications on the new Regulation: vetmedregs@agricuIture.gov.ie.

Departmental Correspondence

Questions (289)

Michael Ring

Question:

289. Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a copy of correspondence sent to a person (details supplied) in County Mayo in June 2019 will to be sent to them. [26165/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

A copy of the letter which issued to the person named has re-issued.

A letter will also issue to the person named setting out the updated situation in relation to his application.

Animal Diseases

Questions (290)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

290. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 650 of 28 July 2020 and 254 of 10 September 2020, if the information (details supplied) has since been provided to his Department; when the information will be available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26167/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Connemara Pony Breeders Society has informed me that for ponies born before 2016, the total number of tests for HWSD is 1,671. The annual breakdown of this figure, however, is not available for 2016 and 2017. The number of test in 2018, 2019 and 2020 is provided below.

Test Year

No. of HWSD Tests

2018

134

2019

220

2020

267

GLAS Issues

Questions (291)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

291. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason funding is being deducted as a penalty for non-compliance with GLAS rules from a farmer (details supplied) who has an active appeal awaiting an oral hearing; the total amount of the proposed penalty; the amount recouped to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26170/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named was approved into GLAS 1 with a contract commencement date of 1 October 2015 and received payments for scheme years 2015-2017.

One of the actions chosen by the person named was Rare Breeds and this action gained him priority access to GLAS under Tier 1. The Rare Breeds action was subsequently rejected due to non-compliance with scheme requirements. As this was the applicant’s only Tier 1 action, under the terms and conditions of the scheme, it resulted in a rejection of the entire GLAS contact and recoupment of all GLAS monies received to date.

In this case, the total amount paid for GLAS was €10,941.18 of which €3,749.59 has been recouped. In general, the recovery of a debt is not paused during the appeals process.

GLAS Issues

Questions (292)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

292. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his Department is willing to defer the oral hearing in an appeal case (details supplied) relating to the failure in one year to register with the CPBS in order to allow the society an opportunity to amend its rules to allow for paying late memberships outstanding to the society; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26171/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I wish to inform the Deputy that the Agriculture Appeals Office operates independently of my Department.

I have been advised, however, that the records of the Agriculture Appeals Office indicate that a GLAS appeal has been received from the person named.

I am also advised that the Agriculture Appeals Office has recently been in contact with the person named and has agreed to defer the oral hearing on this appeal.

GLAS Issues

Questions (293)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

293. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of farmers that have had a penalty applied to their GLAS scheme payments for failure to comply under the rare breeds measure with the requirement to register each year with a society (details supplied); if a 100% penalty was applied in each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26172/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

While my Department do not hold the specific information being requested, the scheme specifications state that applicants who select the Rare Breeds action must be a member of an approved breed society or studbook for the duration of the GLAS contract.

Where this condition is not satisfied, the action is rejected and a claw back of payments in respect of the action will be due. If there is no other priority action on the application, the entire application will be rejected and all GLAS payments will be recouped.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (294)

Bríd Smith

Question:

294. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his Department was notified by a company (details supplied) of a Covid-19 outbreak; if so, when; the actions taken; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26173/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department is contributing to the whole-of-Government response to managing outbreaks of Covid -19 in food plants. In the context of Covid-19, human health must be the absolute priority for all of us, and therefore it is vitally important that all our decisions and actions led by public health advice.

COVID 19 outbreaks in workplaces, including food plants, are dealt with by the HSE. The actions to be taken in relation to outbreaks in workplaces, including food plants, are determined by the local Public Health teams. DAFM is formally notified of all outbreaks in food plants via the HSE led National Standing Oversight Committee (NSOC), which my Department participates in. This is the process which was followed in relation to the company referenced by the Deputy.

My Department’s statutory responsibility in relation to meat processing establishments is to ensure that these premises operate in compliance with the EU’s food hygiene legislation, animal health and animal welfare standards. In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, my Department is participating in the HSE-chaired National Standing Committee on high risk settings, which meets on an ongoing basis to review existing protocols and compliance measures, and to identify any additional control measures required.

My Department is also supporting the HSE and the Health and Safety Authority in monitoring the effective implementation of all relevant Covid-19 guidance in DAFM-approved food plants. There is no room for complacency with regard to the threat posed by Covid-19, and my Department is continually engaged with industry to ensure that the basic measures are implemented correctly.

Animal Diseases

Questions (295)

Carol Nolan

Question:

295. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of cattle herds in each of the years 2017 to 2019 and to date in 2020, in which no additional animals were bought but which still failed the tuberculosis test in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26179/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The data in the table below shows the total number of TB Breakdowns for each year requested. It also shows the last time those herds purchased in animals on foot of a clear TB test.

The Deputy will notice that 95% of herds that had a breakdown had moved in animals within the two years prior to the breakdown. Only 1.5% of herds that had a breakdown had not moved animals in within the preceding six years.

While herdowners are free to trade animals after two clear tests, it does not mean that the risk of those animals developing TB in the future is zero. Research has shown that animals present during a breakdown are at a higher risk of subsequently becoming a reactor.

Year of Breakdown

Total Breakdowns

Last movement in was within 2 years prior to breakdown

Last movement in was between 2 to 4 years prior to breakdown

Last movement in was between 4 to 6 years prior to breakdown.

Last movement in took place 6 or more years prior to breakdown.

2017

3,887

3,747

61

24

55

2018

3,878

3,731

63

30

54

2019

4,078

3,857

114

40

67

2020

3,459

3,192

161

50

56

15,302

14,527

399

144

232

Beef Industry

Questions (296)

Carol Nolan

Question:

296. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of the PGI submission by a group (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26180/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

EU quality designations aim to protect the names of specific products to promote their unique characteristics linked to their geographical origin . They are not only an indication of provenance and geographic origin – they are built on the reputation and quality of a specific product. A geographical indication communicates a message of quality and authenticity to consumers.

An application for the registration of a protected geographical indication was received by my Department from the group concerned on 30th December 2019. A number of iterations have been received from the group concerned since then, the most recent having been received on 14 September 2020. The application is currently being examined to determine compliance with the EU requirements.

Bord Bia

Questions (297)

Carol Nolan

Question:

297. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the role of Bord Bia in respect of the negotiation of contracts on the price of beef at international trade fairs and in the promotion of Irish beef; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26181/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Bord Bia is the State Body charged with promotion and marketing of Irish food, drink and horticulture products ensuring that the high quality of Irish food and drink is recognised around the world.

They play a key role in supporting and enabling Irish producers, farmers and companies to bring Ireland’s food, drink and horticulture to the world by developing potential markets, collecting market intelligence, providing advice on trends and opportunities and implementing the Quality Assurance Schemes for agri food products. Further information on Bord Bia's activities is available on its website and in its Annual Reports.

Bord Bia has no role in contract negotiations on the price of beef at international trade fairs or elsewhere.

European Maritime and Fisheries Fund

Questions (298)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

298. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of applications received for the latest round of EMFF fisheries local action groups funding announced on 21 September 2020; if applications were received from County Louth; if so, the reason applications were not successful; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26194/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department's EMFF Operational Programme is providing €240 million in financial supports to our seafood sector over the period 2014-20. The Programe includes a Fisheries Local Area Development Scheme which implements a community-led local development approach to the socio-economic development of coastal communities. Through the Scheme, seven Fisheries Local Action Groups were selected in 2017 to disperse a Scheme budget of €12 million.

Each of the seven FLAGs devised a Local Development Strategy which guides their activities. The boards of each of these FLAGs have full autonomony within the rules of the EMFF Programme to select projects for funding and I have no function in those decisions. Selection of such projects by the FLAGs is a competitive process. The Scheme has proved very sucessful to date with calls for applications routinely significantly over-subscribed. Thus, only a limited number of applications can be successful each year.

In 2020, some 453 applications were received, with 164 applications for tranche 1 and 93 grants awarded, while for tranche 2 there were 289 applications and 56 projects awarded grants.

FLAG North East covers the coastal areas of Counties Louth, Meath and Dublin. Under tranche 1, FLAG North East received 25 applications and some six projects were selected for grant awards totalling €210,309 contributing to total investment of €291,184. Under tranche 2, FLAG North East received 35 applications and some 4 projects were selected for grant awards of €204,318 contributing towards total investment of €364,148.

Of the applications to FLAG North East in 2020, six were from County Louth. I understand that one was successful. Of the remaining five, I understand that two were for festivals and because of Covid restrictions, festivals did not generally proceed and thus did not attract funding. I understand that one project was judged ineligible under the scheme, while the other two could not be completed in 2020 and so were not prioritised for funding by FLAG North East.

Nitrates Action Programme

Question No. 300 answered with Question No. 288.

Questions (299)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

299. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will delay the proposed nitrates changes (details supplied) until the formal review of the regulations next year and stakeholder consultation and the current economic crisis for farmers due to Covid-19 and Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26201/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage is the lead authority for the Nitrates Regulations (SI 605 2017). The purpose of these Regulations is to give effect to Ireland’s Nitrates Action Programme for the protection of waters against pollution caused by agricultural sources. The set of measures in these regulations provides a basic level of protection against possible adverse impacts to waters arising from the agricultural sources.

A review of Ireland’s nitrates derogation was undertaken in 2019. The review examined further opportunities for derogation farmers to improve efficiencies and continue to reduce their environmental footprint with particular regard to water, climate and air quality. It is accepted that compliance of a higher standard is required from more intensive derogation farmers to ensure a greater level of environment efficiency is achieved. One of the conclusions of the review highlighted interalia, that “In addition, the Commission has requested Ireland to review some of the technical aspects of the Nitrates Action Programme and ........the annual excretion rates for livestock as per Table 6 of SI 605 2017 be reviewed based on most recent scientific research”

Ireland's current Nitrates Action Programme concludes in 2021 and the process of reviewing the Nitrates regulations and derogation will commence soon and will be subject to consultation with all stakeholders.

The current excretion rates for livestock are specified in Table 6 of Schedule 2 (Annex 1) of Statutory Instrument 605 of 2017. The excretion rates for livestock were last evaluated in 2003. In 2019, Teagasc reviewed the excretion rate for the Dairy Cow following the recommendations of the Review group.

The outcome of the review was that the most accurate excretion figure for the average Irish dairy cow is 89kgs of nitrogen.

All farmers are required to comply with stocking rate limits, 170kgs N/ha or in the case of derogation farmers 250 kgs N/ha. Farmers can comply with limits by reducing stock numbers, exporting slurry or renting extra land.

Question No. 300 answered with Question No. 288.

CLÁR Programme

Questions (301)

Cathal Crowe

Question:

301. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Community and Rural Development and the Islands if consideration will be given to the request for support measures outlined from the branch of an organisation (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25999/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Community)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the Minister for Finance has responsibility for the taxation matters raised in this question. I understand that the Deputy will receive a reply from the Minister as he has already submitted the same question to him.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (302)

Claire Kerrane

Question:

302. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Community and Rural Development and the Islands when libraries will reopen to the public under current NPHET recommendations; if plans are in place for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26137/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Community)

My Department has policy responsibility for public libraries only. The provision of public library services is a matter for each local authority in their capacity as library authorities under the Local Government Act 2001.

Library Authorities are providing services in accordance with the 5 levels outlined in the Government's "Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021 Plan for Living with COVID-19".

For areas with Level 1 and Level 2 restrictions in place, the majority of public libraries will be open to the public with protective measures, including social distancing and one-way traffic in the building, with the numbers permitted to enter linked to the capacity of the building.

For areas with Level 3 restrictions in place, public libraries will be closed but online services and a "Contact and Collect" service will be available. The Dublin libraries are currently operating under this level.

For areas with Level 4 and 5 restrictions in place, all public libraries will be closed but online services will continue to be available.

Currently, 262 out of 323 public libraries are open. Some of the smaller branches may not open for browsing until the social distancing requirements are reduced as they are small in size e.g. a room in a community centre and have only one member of staff assigned to them.

Libraries continue to offer an array of online and digital services including over 40,000 eBooks, 30,000 eAudiobooks, 550 online courses, as well as newspapers and magazines. Libraries also providing book delivery services to older and vulnerable clients. Indeed my Department has provided funding of €400,000 so far this year for eBooks and eAudiobooks.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (303)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

303. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Community and Rural Development and the Islands the reason community organisations that are designated company limited by guarantee, are not included in the Covid-19 stability scheme for community and voluntary organisations. [26006/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Community)

The Government's Recovery and Resilience Plan, published on 15 September 2020, acknowledges the importance of communities working together at this challenging time. Community organisations are often the focal point for vital activities that can foster community resilience. The Government is also keenly aware of the challenges facing community and voluntary organisations and is committed to working closely with the sector in managing through these, recognising that it will require a whole of Government approach.

The Community & Voluntary Covid19 Stability Scheme was established to provide immediate cash injections to organisations at severe risk due to significant loss of fundraised or traded income. Community centres that meet the eligibility criteria are receiving support under this fund.

The Stability Scheme opened for Phase One applications in May 2020. This phase was open to community, voluntary and charity organisations and social enterprises, with a legal status who are currently providing critical frontline supports and services. Companies Limited by Guarantee who fulfilled these criteria were eligible to apply under this stream.

In consideration of the broad range of organisations that support the most vulnerable in our communities, Phase Two of the Stability Scheme for unincorporated charities who are registered with the Charities Regulator, opened for applications on Friday 24th June, with a closing date of Monday the 10th August.

My Department received 1,060 applications during the application periods. To date, three tranches of successful applications have been announced, allocating funding of over €25m to 489 organisations. This funding is now supporting the delivery of many critical front line services in every part of the country. A full list of successful applicants is available on the link below.

www.gov.ie/en/publication/3957e-covid-19-stability-fund-successful-applicants/.

Though the fund is closed to new applications, additional checks are continuing on a number of applications and a further announcement in respect of successful applicants will be made shortly.

There are no plans for a further round of the Stability Scheme at present.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (304)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

304. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Community and Rural Development and the Islands if she will provide stability funding or assistance to community associations or organisations that are designated company limited by guarantee or any such sources of funding that exists. [26007/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Community)

The Government's Recovery and Resilience Plan, published on 15 September 2020, acknowledges the importance of communities working together at this challenging time. Community organisations are often the focal point for vital activities that can foster community resilience.

My Department's Community Services Programme (CSP) supports over 400 community organisations. A Support Fund of €1.2m was put in place earlier this year, providing additional funding to many of these CSP organisations which had suffered a loss of income due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

My Department also introduced a package of supports for Community and Voluntary Organisations, Charities and Social Enterprises in the context of COVID-19, which included a Stability Scheme of up to €35m. Organisations registered as companies limited by guarantee were eligible to apply under Phase One of the Stability Scheme which is now closed. Many community organisations that meet the eligibility criteria are receiving support under this fund.

The 2020 Community Enhancement Programme with funding of €2m providing small capital grants to community organisations was launched in June. Separately, under the July stimulus package my Department launched a €5m fund for repairs or upgrades to community centres and community buildings. Details can be found at this link www.gov.ie/en/press-release/2af76-minister-joe-obrien-announces-details-of-5m-funding-for-community-centres-community-facilities/.

The Rural Development Investment Programme is being tailored to address the emerging challenges associated with COVID-19. This includes the Town and Village Renewal Scheme , which is currently open for applications. Improvements to Community centres have been funded through this scheme in the past.

My Department will continue to work with relevant stakeholders, including the Community and Voluntary sector, Local Authorities and Local Development Companies, to support community organisations across the country as they deal with the ongoing and emerging challenges presented by Covid-19.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (305)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

305. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Community and Rural Development and the Islands if it is encouraged by her Department for community organisations to become a company limited by guarantee. [26008/20]

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Written answers (Question to Community)

It is solely the responsibility of the Board of Directors of any organisation, including community organisations, whether or not they become companies limited by guarantee. My Department does not require community organisations to become a company limited by guarantee. However, however having a recognised legal status or being registered with the Charities Regulator may be included as an eligibility criterion under some Department programmes.

CLÁR Programme

Questions (306)

Michael McNamara

Question:

306. Deputy Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Community and Rural Development and the Islands when an application will be assessed (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26043/20]

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Written answers (Question to Community)

I can confirm that my Department has received an application for support as referred to by the Deputy.

My officials are currently assessing all of the applications received under the programme referred to, and I will be in a position to announce the successful projects when the assessment process is fully complete.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (307)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

307. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Community and Rural Development and the Islands if additional funding will be made available through the Covid-19 town and village renewal accelerated measures grant scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26123/20]

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Written answers (Question to Community)

This year’s Town and Village Renewal Scheme has been tailored to assist our rural towns and villages to respond to the challenges presented by COVID-19.

The scheme includes an Accelerated Measure which enables towns and villages to introduce initiatives immediately to support increased footfall and enable people to shop and socialise safely in accordance with public health guidelines.

The scheme also includes the Standard Measure which places a focus this year on the recovery of towns and villages from the impact of COVID-19 in the medium-term.

When the 2020 Town and Village Renewal Scheme was launched in May, it had a budget of €15 million, including an indicative allocation of €5 million for the Accelerated Measure.

The Government’s July Stimulus Package provided an additional €10 million in funding to the Town and Village Renewal scheme, allowing the allocation for the Accelerated Measure to be doubled. This extra funding for the Measure has allowed my Department to:

- increase the number of funding rounds from two to three;

- increase the number of applications that can be submitted by the Local Authorities; and

- as an exceptional measure, provide funding under the Accelerated Measure for larger towns with a population above 10,000 people. This is in recognition of the importance of larger towns in supporting the economic and social fabric of surrounding rural communities.

Successful projects under Round 1 and Round 2 of the Accelerated Measure have recently been announced, with a total of €6.1 million being approved for 226 projects.

Applications under Round 3 and from Large Towns are currently being assessed by my officials and further announcements will be made when the process is complete.

Successful applications under the Standard Measure, which will place a focus on the next stage of recovery, will be announced at a later stage.