Tribunals of Inquiry

Questions (967)

John McGuinness

Question:

967. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of tribunals, inquiries or investigations being undertaken currently by his Department; the number that are in the process of being set up; the number for which the terms of reference are not complete or not agreed; the cost of all to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38034/20]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I wish to advise the Deputy that there are currently no tribunals, inquiries or investigations, other than the normal work of the Investigations Division, being undertaken by my Department.

Departmental Staff

Questions (968, 969, 970)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Question:

968. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 817 of 10 November 2020, the specific educational qualifications or otherwise sought when filling the role of head of environment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38059/20]

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Michael Fitzmaurice

Question:

969. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 817 of 10 November 2020, the differences between the head of ecology and the head of environment; which of these roles has the final say when it comes to environmental issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38060/20]

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Michael Fitzmaurice

Question:

970. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 817 of 10 November 2020, the person who is the current chief forestry inspector; when the person was appointed; if the role of chief forestry inspector is currently vacant, when it will be filled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38061/20]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 968 to 970, inclusive, together.

The head of the ecology unit is filled at Forestry Inspector Grade 1 level. The head of this unit is a qualified ecologist. This person leads a team of qualified ecologists. This role deals mostly with ecology related issues in relation to forestry applications.

The person responsible for environmental policy is a Forestry Inspector Grade 1. This role is not specific to ecology and deals mostly with policy and practice elements of environmental compliance.

Both of these roles report to the Senior Inspector who leads the Forestry Inspectorate. This person has been in this position since 2010. There is currently no vacancy in this position.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (971)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Question:

971. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 817 of 10 November 2020, if software (details supplied) is available to the public to use; if members of the public can obtain new software; if so, the location and the way in which software can be obtained; the cost of same; the amount it cost his Department to change to the new software; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38062/20]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

In 2018, Ireland replaced the CARBWARE for carbon reporting and projections, with the Canadian Forest Service Carbon Budget Model (CBM). CARBWARE is not publicly available to download and is no longer used for reporting. The Carbon Budget Model is used for all of Ireland’s international reporting commitments in relation to forestry and climate change. This CBM software is available, free of charge, for anybody to download on the website of the Canadian Forest Service.

www.nrcan.gc.ca/climate-change/impacts-adaptations/climate-change-impacts-forests/carbon-accounting/carbon-budget-model/13107.

The cost associated with moving to the CBM software was €13,284. CBM has the ability to run long-term projections of forest carbon balance. Input information describing Ireland’s forest estate is required as well as statistical modelling expertise. This allows it to be used for scenario testing of forest policies and reporting reference levels under new accounting systems.

Wildlife Protection

Questions (972)

Holly Cairns

Question:

972. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his attention has been drawn to an incident of inappropriate snaring of animals (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38109/20]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Department's TB wildlife programme was capturing badgers using stopped restraints in the locality at that time. The Department's use of stopped restraints is in compliance with the Wildlife Act specifications and is licensed by the National Parks and Wildlife. At the site mentioned, the restraints were all placed on private agricultural land, which, at that time, were stubble fields, with the consent of the landowner. The restraints had been set the previous evening and the sites were visited at 8am in the morning by DAFM staff and contractors and the badgers removed as per normal procedures. No excessive injuries were present.

Wildlife Protection

Questions (973)

Holly Cairns

Question:

973. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the guidelines under which Department employees or those working on behalf of his Department set snares or other traps for badgers will be made available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38110/20]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Department has detailed procedures on how sites are surveyed and treated. These are in relation to both badger vaccination which is the predominant activity and badger removal. The process for removal is initiated by a veterinary epidemiological investigation detailing the requirement for a wildlife intervention. Thereafter, the Department's wildlife officers follow procedures in relation to surveying farms for badger activity, supervising badger capture and removal. The removed badgers are then independently assessed for injury. Very few instances of injuries more serious than mild bruising are found – less than 1%. However, those instances are all followed up and investigated individually.

Brexit Preparations

Questions (974)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Question:

974. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the provisions that have been put in place to facilitate the smooth movement of livestock across the Border in case of a no-deal Brexit, which will mean lower tariffs on live trade compared with beef exports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38228/20]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The movement of animals and goods across the Border is comprehensively addressed in the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement's Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland. This Protocol will apply from 1 January 2021 regardless of the outcome of the Future Relationship negotiations.

The Protocol upholds measures to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, including that Northern Ireland will continue to apply the Union Customs Code and other relevant EU legislation. This will ensure that many of the changes arising in our trade with Great Britain will not apply to trade with Northern Ireland. The Protocol is clear, and the Commission have confirmed, that the movement of animals and goods, including livestock and beef, between Northern Ireland and the EU will continue to be treated the same as intra-EU movements. This is possible because the Protocol provides that relevant EU law applies to and in Northern Ireland.

Whether tariffs will apply to Irish beef exports to the rest of the UK from 1 January 2021 is dependent on the outcome of the negotiations, which are ongoing. Ireland has been clear that one of our key asks is continued access to the UK market, without tariffs and with minimal additional customs and administrative procedures.

Brexit Preparations

Questions (975)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Question:

975. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the provisions put in place to facilitate the live export of cattle and sheep in the event of a no-deal Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38229/20]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The information is being collated and will be forwarded to the Deputy within 10 working days.

Veterinary Medicines

Questions (976)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Question:

976. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the percentage breakdown of the level of antibiotic usage on farms via compound feed compared with the physical administration of the antibiotic by a farmer or vet in 2018, 2019 and to date in 2020, by sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38230/20]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

At present in Ireland, apart from an antimicrobial consumption database for pigs (AMUpig) which was introduced on an incremental basis in November 2019, we have sales data on the overall volume of veterinary antibiotics sold in a given year, rather than more granular sector specific usage data which would identify the animal species/categories being treated with the antibiotics.

The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) collates data on antibiotic sales for the previous year, provided to the HPRA by the marketing authorisation holders (MAHs) that market veterinary antibiotics in Ireland. Whilst this is high level data, when looking at it, one can make certain assumptions based on our knowledge of the sectors - such that intra-mammary tubes sold are used in the dairy industry and in general the premixes sold are predominantly used in the pig sector.

The most recent HPRA report relates to sales of veterinary antibiotics in Ireland in 2018 and we await publication of the sales report for 2019. The sales figures for 2020 will not be available until Q4 2021 due to a lag period between sales occurring and reporting of sales data to the HPRA from MAHs. The sales data is submitted to the EMA as part of the European Surveillance of Veterinary Antimicrobial Consumption (ESVAC) project.

The total amount of veterinary antibiotics sold by the MAHs in Ireland in 2018 was 99.4 tonnes. This represents sales data in respect of both farming and companion animals.

The 2018 data shows that the premix component (incorporated in feed) of all sales represents 29.2% of overall sales - that equates to approximately 29 tonnes.

The equivalent figure for injectables is 28.1% - equating to 27.9 tonnes.

The sales data however has its limitations as it does not reflect matters such as differences in dosage rate associated with different products or clarity regarding the species of animals in which products are used - the same product may be used across many species.

My Department is currently working to develop a National Secure Veterinary Digital Prescription System which will allow data on the antibiotics being prescribed per species and category to be collected and reported annually in line with requirements of EU Regulation 2019/6. It is planned that this will be in place by January 2022.

GLAS Issues

Questions (977)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

977. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of a GLAS payment for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38238/20]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named was approved into GLAS 3 with a contract commencement date of 1 January 2017 and has received all payments in respect of scheme years 2017 - 2019.

In this case, an issue arose in relation to a land parcel claimed for the Farmland Habitat Private Natura action which no longer meets the criteria for eligibility. This parcel has now been withdrawn from the GLAS contract and the 2020 Advance payment will be processed shortly for the remaining actions.

The person named has been informed in writing of the position as outlined above.

Greyhound Industry

Questions (978)

Patrick Costello

Question:

978. Deputy Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of persons employed in the greyhound industry, as funded by RCÉ, for the period from 2010 to 2020, by year, county and full-time and part-time status, in tabular form. [38248/20]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Rásaíocht Con Éireann 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. Rásaíocht Con Éireann is a body corporate and a separate legal entity to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The question raised by the Deputy is an operational matter for Rásaíocht Con Éireann and therefore the question has been referred to the body for direct reply.

Sheep Welfare Scheme

Questions (979)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

979. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will review the sheep welfare scheme reference year for a person (details supplied) in County Kerry who has increased their flock of sheep and reduced their cattle stock; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38296/20]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Sheep Welfare Scheme was launched in December 2016, for a period of four years. The scheme reflected the commitment of the Government to the sheep sector in Ireland and was introduced as part of Ireland’s Rural Development Programme (RDP).

The person named applied to join the Sheep Welfare Scheme in January 2017. As per the terms and conditions of the scheme, the eligible number of breeding ewes for the scheme was based on the average number of breeding ewes declared by the applicant on their 2014 and 2015 Sheep Census return.

This number forms the reference number for payment for applicants for the duration of the scheme and is not permitted to increase, unless where required in line with an applicant’s obligations under the GLAS scheme.

In the case of the person named, the number of eligible breeding ewes/reference number for payment was determined to be 104 for the duration of the scheme and was based on the number of eligible ewes declared by the person named on his 2014 and 2015 Sheep Census return. The maintenance of a fixed reference period based on the years preceding the scheme was required as part of the agreement of the Scheme with the EU Commission for inclusion in our RDP.

As part of Budget 2021, I secured an additional allocation of €17m for the extension of the Sheep Welfare scheme for a further year in 2021. The existing provisions of the terms and conditions of the scheme, including the applicable reference number for payment for applicants, will remain in place during the period covered by the extension.

Nitrates Action Programme

Questions (980)

James O'Connor

Question:

980. Deputy James O'Connor asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to impose Environmental Protection Agency licensing on dairy, livestock and tillage farmers in view of recent comments and reports in the media by his officials; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38349/20]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

There are currently no plans to impose EPA licensing beyond current requirements.

The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien T.D. and I will shortly open a public consultation in relation to the fifth review of Ireland’s Nitrates Action Programme (NAP). Ireland’s NAP gives effect to the requirements of the Nitrates Directive in Ireland. The European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2017 (S.I. No. 605 of 2017) contain specific measures to protect surface waters and groundwater from nutrient pollution arising from agricultural sources. The regulations expire at the end of 2021 and a new NAP must be published at the beginning of 2022.

The public consultation documentation for the next NAP review sets out keys areas for stakeholders to consider and seeks views on how agriculture can improve and protect water quality. The NAP plays an important role in helping Ireland to protect water quality and in addition the review will also seek to achieve co-benefits to realise both biodiversity and climate action objectives as effectively as possible.

All opportunities to increase the sustainability of Irish agriculture, while supporting productive farming, will be explored during the review period.

Agriculture Schemes

Questions (981)

Denis Naughten

Question:

981. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of farmers excluded from the BEAM scheme due to the fact they are not signed up to the Bord Bia quality assurance scheme; the value of payments withheld as a result; the corresponding figures for the Covid beef scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38380/20]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Over 27,000 farmers successfully applied for the Beef Finisher Payment and have been paid €46.5 million. Under the scheme, applicants were required to be a member of the Bord Bia Beef and Lamb Quality Assurance scheme at the time of application, or to become a member prior to 30 September, 2020. 668 applications were received under the BFP which did not meet the requirement. The number of animals linked to these ineligible applications represent a potential payment of €252,700.

Approximately €77.7 million has been paid out to 33,445 farmers who successfully applied for the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM). Applicants were required to be a member of at least one environmental or quality scheme at the time of application, or to become a member of a quality scheme prior to 1 December, 2019. 436 applications were received under the BEAM which did not meet this requirement. The number of animals linked to these ineligible applications represent a potential payment of €436,940.

Animal Sales

Questions (982)

Paul Donnelly

Question:

982. Deputy Paul Donnelly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the consumer protections in place in regard to the purchase of a pet online if the advertisement is not in compliance with the regulations introduced on 1 February 2020. [38539/20]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The safety and welfare of pet animals was one of the main concerns behind the introduction, by my Department, of regulations on the sale and supply of pet animals last year. These regulations came into effect in February of this year.

These Regulations were welcomed by the ISPCA and other welfare organisations, and put into law certain requirements for sellers and suppliers of pet animals, including minimum ages for sale of certain mammals; record-keeping; registration with the Department and provision of certain information about the pet in advertisements.

Consumer protection falls under the remit of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, which is an independent statutory body for which the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment has oversight.

Fishing Industry

Questions (983)

James Lawless

Question:

983. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of the situation with pair trawlers in Kenmare Bay, County Kerry. [38616/20]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

In December 2018, following a public consultation process in which over 900 submissions were received, the then Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine announced that vessels over 18m will be excluded from trawling in inshore waters inside the six nautical mile zone and the baselines from 1 January 2020. A transition period of three years for vessels over 18m targeting sprat was allowed to enable adjustment for these vessels, as the sprat fishery is concentrated inside the six nautical mile zone.

A Policy Directive was issued by the Minister to the independent Licensing Authority to give effect to these measures. The Policy Directive directed the Licensing Authority to insert a condition to this effect into the licences of affected vessels.

A Judicial Review to the High Court was taken by two applicant fishermen challenging the validity of the Policy.

On 6th October 2020, the Judge held in summary that the High Court’s final order should be, among other matters, a declaration that Policy Directive 1 of 2019 was made in breach of fair procedures and is void and/or of no legal effect.

The breach of fair procedures as referenced above related to a failure with obligations to consult with the applicants in accordance with, and to the extent required by, the consultation process and in particular by failing to consult with them once a preferred option had been identified.

The High Court’s ruling of Judicial Review proceedings which relate to the Policy Directive has been appealed by the State to the Court of Appeal and a stay is being sought on the orders granted therein.

As this matter is sub judice, I am not in a position to comment until the matter can be resolved before the Courts.