Fishery Harbour Centres

Questions (996)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

996. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the details of revenue generated activities in each of the fishery harbour centres under the remit of his Department in 2019 and 2020, in tabular form. [6607/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department owns, operates and maintains six designated State-owned Fishery Harbour Centres, located at Castletownbere, Dingle, Dunmore East, Howth, Killybegs and Ros An Mhíl under statute. My Department became responsible for the Fishery Harbour Centres in October 2007. The Fishery Harbour Centres were established under the Fishery Harbour Centre Act 1968 (as amended) as centres in which to promote and develop sea fishing activities.

All income generated by the centres is lodged into the Fishery Harbour Centres Fund. Day-to-day operational and management costs at each Fishery Harbour Centre are financed from this fund.

My Department prepares annual Fishery Harbour Centre Financial Statements which are laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. The below table gives a breakdown of receipts for each of the Fishery Harbour Centres for the years 2019 and 2020 as requested. The figures provided for 2019 have been extracted from the published Financial Statements which have been certified by the Comptroller and Auditor General. The figures supplied in respect of 2020 are draft uncertified figures as the Financial Statements for 2020 are under preparation.

Killybegs

Castletown-bere

Ros an Mhíl

Howth

Dunmore East

An Daingean

Total

€'000

€'000

€'000

€'000

€'000

€'000

€'000

Year 2019

Receipts

Harbour Dues

2,529

922

263

249

162

389

4,514

Rental Income

137

192

56

581

59

44

1,069

Sundry receipts

32

3

3

54

1

19

112

Asset disposals

0

0

0

0

2

0

2

Total

2,698

1,117

322

884

224

452

5,697

Year 2020

Receipts

Harbour Dues

2,546

891

241

272

132

352

4,434

Rental Income

138

197

16

496

56

30

933

Sundry receipts

48

23

3

22

7

10

113

Asset disposals

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

2,732

1,111

260

790

195

392

5,480

Licence Applications

Questions (997)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

997. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a forestry licence application for a person (details supplied) will be approved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6630/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

An application for a tree felling licence for the person named was received in September 2018 and has been referred to my Department’s Ecology Unit. The application site is near the River Blackwater SAC. Therefore, the impact of any felling operations on the sites and the surrounding area must be carefully considered before deciding on the licence application.

My Department’s Ecology Unit has completed its report and determination on the site and the file has been returned to the Forestry District Inspector. They will review the ecology reports and will finalise their inspection of the site and make their recommendations. Those recommendations will form part of the decision on the application which will be sent to the person named when available.

I expect this work to be completed within a matter of weeks.

Agriculture Scheme Eligibility

Questions (998)

Michael McNamara

Question:

998. Deputy Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if an exception can be made for a person (details supplied) in relation to a green certificate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6633/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

This is an operational matter for Teagasc who deliver the Green Cert Programme.

I have requested that Teagasc examine the matter and respond directly to the Deputy within 10 days.

Dairy Sector

Questions (999)

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

999. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the breakdown in volume and value in 2020 of dairy ingredients exports to South Africa; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6670/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Despite significant challenges in 2020 arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, Irish dairy exports performed strongly with total export value of €4.653 billion and volume of 1.460 million tonnes for 2020 up to the end of November, according to CSO trade data. This compares with the same period in 2019 with equivalent dairy exports worth €4.683 billion and 1.494 million tonnes.

Full-year trade data for 2020 should be available from the CSO within the next month.

The table below, based on the latest data available from the Central Statistics Office, outlines the value (€000) and volume (tonnes) of dairy ingredients exported to South Africa from January to November 2020:

Description

€ 000 (Value)

Tonnes (Volume)

Food Preparations

9,835

5,297

Butter

5,150

1,376

Caseins

4,167

590

Infant Formula

1,926

144

Whole Milk Powder

1,298

450

Whey

897

852

Skimmed Milk Powder

332

148

Cheese

124

26

Ice-cream

39

6

Yoghurt

34

7

TOTAL

23,802

8,895

Source: CSO AgriStats Jan-Nov 2020

Total figures represent an increase of 1.5% by value and decrease of 13.1% by volume when compared to the same period in 2019. Dairy ingredients exports to South Africa represent 0.5% of total dairy exports by value.

Wildlife Control

Questions (1000)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

1000. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6698/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Since November 2020, there have been four cases of Avian Influenza H5N8 in wild birds in county Monaghan, all in the Ballybay area. There have been no cases of Avian Influenza H5N8 in poultry or captive birds in county Monaghan.

In total, Avian Influenza H5N8 has been confirmed in 27 wild birds in counties Limerick, Cork, Mayo, Monaghan, Kildare, Wicklow, Louth, Cavan and Donegal in bird species including peregrine falcon, curlew, mute swan, whooper swan, barnacle goose and cormorant.

In addition, one case of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N3 was confirmed in two knot birds in county Louth.

Licence Applications

Questions (1001, 1002)

John Paul Phelan

Question:

1001. Deputy John Paul Phelan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on the total number of licences, including felling, afforestation and roads which are required by the forestry and timber industry here on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6767/21]

View answer

John Paul Phelan

Question:

1002. Deputy John Paul Phelan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the specific number of licences including felling, afforestation and roads which his Department plans to issue in 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6768/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1001 and 1002 together.

I fully recognise and appreciate the impact the current forestry licencing delays are having on the sector. The targets for the sector's needs are not measured in numbers of licences but in the overall targets for each category, namely:

- Afforestation: 8,000 hectares as set out in the Climate Action Plan

- Roads: 125km as set out in the Climate Action plan

- Felling: 4million m3 as set out in COFORD's Roundwood Forecast

My Department issued 2,593 licences in 2020 representing 4,365ha of afforestation, over 5 million cubic metres of timber for felliing and 131km of forest roads. It is my immediate priority to increase the number of licences issued.

The Deputy will be aware of the delays caused by changes to the licensing system, which means that a significant number of cases now need ecological input to comply with environmental requirements. We are tackling these delays by means of a systematic project plan. We have invested heavily in resources including the recruitment of additional ecologists, forestry inspectorate and administrative staff, with extra resources to be added in 2021. This has already resulted in an increase in the number of licences issued, and the last quarter of 2020 saw the highest number of licences issued last year. In fact, the number of licences issued in January was the highest number issued in a single month, 349, since July 2019.

Along with Minister of State, Senator Pippa Hackett, who is responsible for forestry, it is my intention to increase the number of licences issued to 4,500 in 2021 which would be an increase of 74% on 2020. We also plan to fill the Coillte felling requirement for 2022 by October and to clear the backlog of files currently with ecology by the end of the year. Ultimately, the aim is to meet the objective of determining a felling licence within four months of receipt, as set out in the Forestry Act 2014 and to achieve the 18 week timeframe for other approvals as set out in the Farmers Charter.

We have also implemented changes to the functioning of the FAC and acted quickly to propose and implement the Forestry (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act. I have significantly resourced the FAC and four appeals committees are now set up and hearing appeals. The FAC is now hearing an average of 60 licences per month representing an increase of 150%. This increase in output means that applicants are being given certainty in terms of whether they may proceed with their licence. The FAC in consultation with the Agriculture Appeals Office is currently reviewing ways in which greater efficiency can be achieved across the four divisions of the FAC.

I would like to reiterate my commitment to supporting the forest sector and to building on the recent progress, so that a continual improvement in delivery is achieved.

Afforestation

Forestry Sector

Questions (1003)

John Paul Phelan

Question:

1003. Deputy John Paul Phelan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his Department has given or will give consideration to the issue of wholescale regulatory reform in view of the current crisis facing the forest and timber industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6769/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Forestry Act 2014 and the supplemental Forestry Regulation 2017 (SI No. 191 of 2017), is the primary legislative framework for supporting the development and promotion of forestry in Ireland.

The regulatory provisions, in particular those for the licensing of certain forestry operations, give effect domestically to the requirements of EU environmental law, environmental policy that falls within the scope of EU law, and the four environmental principles that inform those frameworks. Although not an exclusive list this includes the Birds Directive, the Habitats Directive, the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive, the Water Framework Directive, and the Dangerous Substances Directive, as well as the prevention principle, which aims to prevent environmental damage rather than to react to it; and the rectification at source principle, which seeks to prevent pollution at its source rather than remedy its effects.

In addition to the obligation on the Department to comply with these statutory provisions, the manner in which it does so in terms of the Appropriate Assessment (AA) process must also accord with the relevant Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) decisions and their subsequent application in the national courts and the Forestry Appeals Committee.

Whilst the Mackinnon Report did suggest a comprehensive review of the Act and Regulations with a view to reducing the amount of detailed process which is described in statute, it remains the case that in deciding on early appeals made to it, the Forestry Appeals Committee found the Department’s previous AA process required changes and the revised and more comprehensive procedures subsequently introduced are now proving to be more acceptable to that body.

There are other suggestions for reform contained in the Mackinnon Report. Ms Jo O'Hara has been commissioned to advise on the implementation plan for the Mackinnon Report and her report is expected shortly. Any proposals for regulatory reform will need to respect and be compatible with requirements of relevant EU and national law, as well as consistent with State’s other international law commitments.

Animal Sales

Questions (1004)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

1004. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if advice will be provided regarding the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6788/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I understand that the herd of the person named has been de-restricted and the De-restriction Notice issued in the post on 4 February 2021. His next herd test will be the TB annual round test which is scheduled for January 2022.

Teagasc Activities

Questions (1005)

Patricia Ryan

Question:

1005. Deputy Patricia Ryan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he plans to take to improve the take up of Teagasc research services by farmers as referred to in the recent AGRIP report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6801/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Programme (AGRIP) Report was carried out as part of the 2020 Spending Review, which is an annual process to evaluate programmes and support evidence-based policy making.

There are a number of challenges for the agricultural sector in adapting production methods to ensure the ongoing sustainability of the sector. Research is crucial in providing evidence and improving technologies and the paper found that the AGRIP programme was broadly achieving its objectives.

The paper notes that the Teagasc Sustainability Report highlights that profitable farms are more likely to adopt new technologies and innovative practices and that these are underpinned by research findings such as those provided through AGRIP. The challenge remains to attract other farmers to engage and implement the latest technologies and practices to improve their farm performance. This was the basis for the recommendation to improve the dissemination of the research findings and to encourage uptake.

Teagasc welcomed the findings of the Spending Review. In terms of addressing the recommendation on disseminating these research outputs to farmers, Teagasc’s education and advisory programmes encourage the adoption of technologies and systems that improve technical and environmental performance and productivity across all farming systems. In addition, the soon to be launched SignPost Programme is a comprehensive national programme to improve the economic, environmental and social sustainability of all farms. Teagasc has a comprehensive programme of virtual open days, farm walks and conferences and is continuing to develop and enhance its written and online communication channels including on its website, through newsletters and through social media.

My Department will continue to work with Teagasc to develop, promote and transfer its research findings to farmers.

Agriculture Schemes

Questions (1006)

Patricia Ryan

Question:

1006. Deputy Patricia Ryan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will abolish or delay the requirement to reduce stocking rates under the BEAM scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6802/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) provided temporary exceptional adjustment aid to farmers in the beef sector in Ireland, subject to the conditions set out in EU Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/1132. BEAM was funded by a combination of EU aid and Exchequer support. It was provided to support Irish beef farmers who saw beef prices fall in light of market disturbance.

One of the conditions under which the €50 million was granted by the European Commission was that there had to be an element of reduction or re-structuring built in to the scheme. This is clearly set out in Article 1 (3) of EU Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/1132. Accordingly, in applying for BEAM, participants agreed to reduce the production of bovine livestock manure nitrogen on their holding by 5% for the period 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021 as compared to the period 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019.

However, in light of the difficulties some farmers are experiencing in meeting this reduction arising from COVID-19 Government Public Health restrictions, my Department recently wrote to the European Commission seeking flexibility to offer participants the option to set a later reduction period under BEAM if they were finding it difficult to deliver the 5% bovine manure nitrogen reduction in the period 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021. The European Commission has agreed that Ireland can give participating farmers the option change the period over which the 5% reduction required can be delivered.

In that context, participating farmers will have the choice of changing the reduction year from the existing period of 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021 to a new period of 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2021. The new reduction period will only apply those farmers who opt to apply for the change.

I will be engaging with farm organisations and agricultural consultants in the coming period to how best to work with participants on these changes.

Agriculture Schemes

Questions (1007)

Patricia Ryan

Question:

1007. Deputy Patricia Ryan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will extend the reference period under the BEAM scheme; if he will introduce a graduated penalty regime within the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6803/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) provided temporary exceptional adjustment aid to farmers in the beef sector in Ireland, subject to the conditions set out in EU Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/1132. BEAM was funded by a combination of EU aid and Exchequer support. It was provided to support Irish beef farmers who saw beef prices fall in light of market disturbance.

One of the conditions under which the €50 million was granted by the European Commission was that there had to be an element of reduction or re-structuring built in to the scheme. Accordingly, in applying for BEAM, participants agreed to reduce the production of bovine livestock manure nitrogen on their holding by 5% for the period 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021 as compared to the period 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019.

However, in light of the difficulties some farmers are experiencing in meeting this reduction arising from COVID-19 Government Public Health restrictions, my Department recently wrote to the European Commission seeking flexibility to offer farmers the opportunity to select a later reduction year under BEAM if they were finding it difficult to deliver the 5% bovine manure nitrogen reduction in the period 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021.

The Deputy will be glad to know that the European Commission has agreed that Ireland can offer farmers the chance to alter the year during which the 5% reduction required must be delivered. The alternative will be the calendar year 2021 for those who choose it.

The new reduction year will only apply those farmers who opt to apply for the change.

A graduated payment regime is set out in the scheme Terms and Conditions. Farmers who fail to meet the full 5% reduction will have to refund some or all of the payment they received under the scheme. Farmers must meet a minimum of a 4% reduction in order to avoid triggering a 100% clawback. Farmers who reduce by between 4% and 5% are subject to a partial clawback as provided for in the terms and conditions of the scheme.

I will be engaging with farm organisations and agricultural consultants in the coming period to how best to work with participants on these changes.

Felling Licences

Questions (1008)

Patricia Ryan

Question:

1008. Deputy Patricia Ryan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the backlog in the issuing of felling licences will be addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6804/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I fully recognise the impact the current forestry licencing delays are having on the sector and I am in regular and intensive consultation with all stakeholders to resolve these issues. Along with Minister of State Pippa Hackett who is responsible for forestry, it is my immediate priority to deal with this backlog and to issue licences in the volume needed for this important sector to continue to contribute to our rural economy, that services both the local and export market.

You will be aware of the delays caused by changes to the licensing system, which means that a significant number of cases now need ecological input to comply with environmental requirements. We are tackling these delays by means of a systematic project plan. In 2020, we invested heavily in resources including the recruitment of additional ecologists, forestry inspectorate and administrative staff, with extra resources to be added this year. This has already resulted in an increase in the number of licences issued, and the last quarter of 2020 saw the highest number of licences issued last year. In addition, January saw the highest number of licences issued in any one month since July 2019.

The total number of licences which issued in 2020 was 2,592, of which 1,717 were tree felling licences. The total volume of felling licences issued for 2020 was just over 5 million cubic metres, of which almost 2m cubic metres representing 40% of annual output issued in the latter months of the year. This positive trend is continuing, with a timber volume of over 1 million cubic metres issued this year to date. The aim is to sustain and build substantially on that output and ensure the consistent high level of output that the sector needs.

We have also implemented changes to the functioning of the Forestry Appeals Committee (FAC) and acted quickly to propose and implement the Forestry (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act. I have significantly resourced the FAC and four appeals committees are now set up and hearing appeals. The FAC is now hearing an average of 60 licences per month representing an increase of 150 percent. The FAC, in consultation with the Agriculture Appeals Office, is currently reviewing ways in which greater efficiency can be achieved across the four divisions of the FAC.

I would like to reiterate my commitment to supporting the forest sector and to building on the recent progress, so that a continual improvement in delivery is achieved.

GLAS Issues

Questions (1009)

Michael Creed

Question:

1009. Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when GLAS payments will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [6870/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named was approved into GLAS 1 with a contract commencement date of 1 January 2016 and payments were processed for scheme years 2016 and 2017.

The application was initially rejected based on the findings of an on farm inspection. However, a review of the case led to a decision to reinstate the application with a penalty. The Department is currently working to resolve the outstanding validation issues so that payments due can be processed as soon as possible.

Agriculture Scheme Appeals

Questions (1010)

Michael Creed

Question:

1010. Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a decision has been made on an appeal by a person (details supplied) in County Cork in respect of the beef finisher payment. [6874/21]

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 that the records of the Agriculture Appeals Office indicate that an appeal in relation to Beef Finisher Payment was received from the person named in October 2020. The Appeals Office requested the file and a statement on the grounds of appeal from my Department and all relevant documentation was forwarded to the Appeals Office.

I am advised that the appeal has now been finalised and a decision issued to the person named on 19 January 2021.

Aquaculture Licences

Questions (1011)

Holly Cairns

Question:

1011. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he has received an aquaculture licence application (details supplied); the status of the application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6885/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department considers all applications for aquaculture licences in accordance with the provisions of the 1997 Fisheries (Amendment) Act, the 1933 Foreshore Act and applicable national and EU legislation. The licensing process involves consultation with a wide range of scientific and technical advisers as well as various Statutory Consultees. The legislation also provides for a period of public consultation. All submissions received during the public and statutory consultation phase are considered during the licensing process.

I can confirm that my Department has received two applications for salmon farm aquaculture licences in Roaringwater Bay. These applications are currently the subject of scientific and technical review by my Department. On completion of this review, the applications will progress to the next stages of the licensing process which as set out above includes both public and statutory consultation.

Departmental Schemes

Questions (1012)

Holly Cairns

Question:

1012. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the financial support and incentives there will be to encourage farmers to pilot calf-at-foot strategies; the agency which will be responsible for implementing and monitoring this measure; when the trials will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6886/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

In line with the initiatives identified in Ireland's new Animal Welfare Strategy, emphasis is being placed on evaluating the potential for alternative husbandry practices, including dairy calf-at-foot rearing. Teagasc has begun a study in comparing leaving the calf with its mother for the first eight-weeks versus separating the calf from its mother at birth, to assess the effects on behaviours relevant to welfare in the longer term and calf growth.

My Department will assess the potential for any related scheme taking account of Teagasc advice and other relevant research.

EU Directives

Questions (1013)

Holly Cairns

Question:

1013. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the measures his Department has taken to implement and uphold the EU Pigs Directive Council Directive 2008/120/EC; if there are outstanding parts of the Directive that need to be addressed under legislation; the measures he plans to take to support the development of a high-welfare outdoor-reared pig and poultry sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6887/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is the competent authority for the implementation of the EU legislation on pig welfare (Council Directive 2008/120/EC).

Each year, officials from my Department carry out inspections on pig farms to ensure compliance with the provisions set out in the Directive. Farms are selected for inspection based on pre-identified risk parameters, with some random inspections also. Inspections are carried out in a standardised way by qualified veterinary inspectors. Where non compliances are identified, they are followed up on as appropriate to the circumstances.

I have recently announced that the threshold for available funding support for pig and poultry farmers is to be increased in the next tranche of TAMS and will carry some additional aminal welfare conditionality. These proposals are currently being finalised.

My Department has recently launched a new over-arching national animal welfare strategy for animal welfare which includes a commitment to support the development of a high welfare outdoor pig and poultry sector which will initially involve a stakeholder consultation process.

Greyhound Industry

Questions (1014)

Holly Cairns

Question:

1014. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if only greyhounds presented for racing, that is, greyhounds which have at least one race record in Ireland will be tracked by the proposed new traceability system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6888/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Rásaíocht Con Éireann (RCÉ) 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. RCÉ 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 RCÉ and, therefore, the question has been referred to the body for direct reply.