Greyhound Industry

Questions (1015)

Holly Cairns

Question:

1015. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his understanding of the position which applies when greyhound pups fail to produce a qualifying and acceptable time and are not presented for racing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6889/21]

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.

Greyhound Industry

Questions (1016)

Holly Cairns

Question:

1016. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of recorded births of greyhounds annually between 1 January 2010 and 31 December 2020, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6890/21]

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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 Irish Coursing Club (ICC) has been the keeper for the Irish Greyhound Stud Book since 1923. The ICC has provided my Department with the data as set out in tabular form below in relation to recorded births of greyhounds annually between 1st January 2010 and 31st December 2020.

Year

Namings

2010

16,467

2011

15,908

2012

16,224

2013

15,575

2014

14,898

2015

15,388

2016

13,987

2017

13,649

2018

13,327

2019

12,793

2020

12,930

Organic Farming Scheme

Questions (1017, 1018)

Holly Cairns

Question:

1017. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the supports being offered to assist applicants to the organic farming scheme given the high rates of refused admissions in the 2018 scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6892/21]

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Holly Cairns

Question:

1018. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the measures being put in place to help cattle and sheep farmers successfully apply to the organic farming scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6893/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1017 and 1018 together.

An additional €4 million has been allocated to facilitate the re-opening of the Organic Farming Scheme. This will further develop the organic sector and contribute to the Programme for Government target to align the area under organic production in Ireland with the EU average. I was pleased to see my colleague Minister of State Hackett announce this re-opening last week and expect the scheme to be open to applicants on 1st March.

The Organic Farming Scheme will be open to applications from all sectors. In the event of the Scheme being over-subscribed, successful applications will be determined by a ranking and selection process. This selection process will allocate additional marks to applicants who are current licenced organic farmers who were not successful in gaining entry to the previous Scheme but have continued to farm organically. Marks will be awarded for each sector with the aim of increasing the area under organic production, while prioritising areas deemed to be in deficit. The areas deemed to be in deficit by the Organic Strategy Group are dairy, tillage and horticulture.

While the ranking and selection process will prioritise these areas, I believe that the level of funding provided for this new Scheme will facilitate the entry of some 400-500 farmers into the organic farming system. This should allow successful applications from enterprises other than those deemed to be in deficit.

There are a number of supports for farmers who are considering converting to organic including advisory bodies such as Teagasc and private advisors and the organic certification bodies. I would encourage all applicants to actively consider converting and to make use of the available supports.

Veterinary Laboratories

Questions (1019)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

1019. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will provide a schedule of substances such as agricultural animal remedies and growth hormones stored and disposed of through the facility at Backweston, County Kildare, in 2019, 2020 and to date in 2021; and the quantities of same. [6936/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department engages closely with other State organisations in the interception and seizure of illegal substances where relevant.

Customs Officers regularly identify and detain illegal importations and notify my Department of these seizures. The subsequent follow up actions required are managed by the Investigations Division and the Veterinary Medicines Section of my Department. A schedule of these substances is attached which identifies the products destroyed and those currently stored in Backweston.

In relation to substances seized directly by DAFM officers or substances identified by Customs and passed directly to Department investigators, records of these are not readily available. However, below is a schedule of products currently stored in Backweston.

Table A

Table B

Coillte Teoranta

Questions (1020)

Pat Buckley

Question:

1020. Deputy Pat Buckley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to protect Roughfield Wood, Mounnadowna Wood and Dreenagh Wood, County Cork, given plans by Coillte to sell parts of these lands for the erection of a telecommunications mast. [7045/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Coillte CGA was established as a private commercial company under the Forestry Act, 1988 and day-to-day operational matters, such as the management of their forest estate, are the responsibility of the company.

Agriculture Scheme Appeals

Questions (1021)

Matt Carthy

Question:

1021. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of instances since January 2015 to date in which his Department has set aside the findings of the director of the agricultural appeals office following a review at the request of his Department of a decision by an appeals officer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7052/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I am not aware of any cases in which the findings of the Director of the Agriculture Appeals Office have been set aside by my Department.

However, I have requested that a full review of the case files be undertaken by my Department of the outcomes of these cases, so that a definitive response may be forwarded to the Deputy in due course.

Fur Farming

Questions (1022)

Matt Carthy

Question:

1022. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his Department issued a direction to mink farms that a cull was to be carried out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7064/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Programme for Government 2020 contains a commitment regarding the prohibition of fur farming and Department officials have been working on appropriate steps to give effect to this. My Department is in the process of drafting a Bill to provide for the introduction of a ban on fur farming which will include a prohibition on mink farming.

The Bill will make it illegal for any new fur farms to be established and will provide for the closure of the small number of existing farm operations. My Department has not issued a direction to mink farmers that a cull was to be carried out.

Fur Farming

Questions (1023)

Matt Carthy

Question:

1023. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the advice he has received from the CMO indicating that a cull on farmed mink is no longer warranted on public health grounds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7065/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I am aware of the comments from the Chief Medical Officer but have received no further advice from him on this matter.

Notwithstanding, my Department is in the process of drafting a Bill to provide for the introduction of a ban on fur farming which will include a prohibition on mink farming. The Bill will make it illegal for any new fur farms to be established and will provide for the closure of the small number of existing farm operations. This will fulfill the Programme for Government 2020 commitment regarding the prohibition of fur farming.

Following the outbreak of a new form of COVID-19 in mink in Denmark and the possibility of the mutation moving from mink to humans, my Department initiated surveillance testing of animals on the three mink farms. Results received to date have been negative. Similarly, the HSE has initiated surveillance of the workers on these premises.

Farm Inspections

Questions (1024)

Matt Carthy

Question:

1024. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of farm inspections carried out by month and county in each of the years 2016 to 2020 and to date in 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7066/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Due to the volume of the information requested by the Deputy, it was not possible to provide a comprehensive response in the required timeframe. I will arrange for a reply to be forwarded directly to the Deputy within 10 working days.

Horticulture Sector

Questions (1025)

Martin Browne

Question:

1025. Deputy Martin Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the supports available for mushroom growers and the nursery sector who will be affected by the end of horticultural peat harvesting. [7084/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

In relation to peat extraction, my Department has no involvement in its regulation. This is a planning process under the remit of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and an Integrated Pollution Control (IPC) license process, under the remit of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

Regarding the future use of peat moss in the horticulture sector, on 7th September 2020, Malcolm Noonan T.D., Minister for Heritage and Electoral Reform in the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, published a report on the review of the use of Peat Moss in the Horticultural Industry. The review report was prepared by an inter-agency working group following on from the submissions from stakeholders.

After the publication of this report, Minister Noonan proposed the establishment of a working group to include representatives from relevant Government Departments and State Agencies, Environmental Non-Governmental Organisations and industry stakeholders under an independent chairperson to examine the issues identified during the review. In this respect, the working group will address the key issues raised in the report itself, including future use of peat by the horticulture sector. The position of Chair for the Independent Working Group will be filled shortly. Once the Chair is in place, the setting up of the working group members will take place.

In addition to these developments, my Department is actively looking at alternatives to peat and has funded two research projects to date. It has also recently sought further research be conducted here to explore alternatives to peat based growing media for horticultural production in this area in its latest Research Call for 2021. These must be available, affordable and sustainable and meet quality as well as environmental requirements.

Common Agricultural Policy

Questions (1026)

Matt Carthy

Question:

1026. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of recipients who received CAP Pillar 1 payments of €60,000 or higher in 2020, by county in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7109/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The figures requested by the Deputy are set out in tabular format below.

These figures are derived from the total amounts paid to applicants under CAP Pillar 1 (Basic Payment, Greening, Young Farmers, National Reserve and Protein Aid schemes).

County

No of applicants paid more than €60,000

Carlow

23

Cavan

5

Clare

10

Cork

94

Donegal

20

Dublin

20

Galway

22

Kerry

25

Kildare

51

Kilkenny

38

Laois

35

Leitrim

2

Limerick

22

Longford

6

Louth

32

Mayo

12

Meath

96

Monaghan

1

Offaly

27

Roscommon

7

Sligo

6

Tipperary

91

Waterford

44

Westmeath

27

Wexford

64

Wicklow

21

Total

801

Common Agricultural Policy

Questions (1027)

Matt Carthy

Question:

1027. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the level of funding that would be available for redistribution if CAP Pillar 1 payments were capped at €60,000 at 2020 levels. [7110/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department is carefully considering all aspects of the CAP proposals in order to assess their potential impact on farmers. However, the final agreement on the CAP is dependent on the outcome of the trilogue process, which is still ongoing.

Until that process is concluded, we will not have certainty on the final shape of the CAP and so we cannot provide definitive answers on the funding that would be released by application of reduction of payments.

My Department has published some modelled scenarios (available at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/f4561-cap-post-2020-direct-payments-modelling/) including the effects of capping at various levels which concludes that minimal funds are likely to be generated from even the most stringent application of capping.

I will continue to monitor the trilogue process to ensure the best possible outcome for Irish farmers. This is a key priority of mine.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (1028)

Christopher O'Sullivan

Question:

1028. Deputy Christopher O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if urgent supports and measures will be provided as a response to the financial implications for the national hunt horse racing industry caused by the decision to cancel all point- to-point races under current restrictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7161/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) is a commercial state body established under the Horse and Greyhound Racing Act, 2001, and is responsible for the overall administration, promotion and development of the horse racing industry.

Under Section 12 of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Act 2001, my Department provides funding to HRI on an annual basis.

Under this provision, for 2021, my Department has allocated €76.8 million to HRI to assist the horse racing and wider thoroughbred industry. This allocation represents an increase of €9.6m or 14% on the allocation provided to HRI of €67.2 million in 2020.

The objective of this increase is in part to assist the industry in dealing with the twin challenges of COVID-19 and Brexit.

Forestry Sector

Questions (1029)

Patrick Costello

Question:

1029. Deputy Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if tree felling for the purpose of clearing a site for non-essential construction is or is not deemed to be forestry; and his views on whether it should be classified as construction. [7171/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Forestry Act, 2014, gives a clear definition of a forest as "land under trees with (a) a minimum area of 0.1 hectare and (b) tree crown cover of more than 20 per cent of the total area, or the potential to achieve this cover at maturity, and includes all species of trees".

The Act also provides, under Article 19, for exemptions for tree felling without a tree felling licence, which includes the removal of trees as specified in a grant of planning permission.

Where a landowner is unsure if the trees in question meet the definition of a forest or if the removal of the trees is not covered by a grant of planning, then an application for a tree felling licence must be made. This is regardless of whether the site is to be cleared for non-essential construction. It is an offence to fell trees without a valid tree felling licence, for which upon conviction the land owner may be liable for considerable penalties.

Beef Imports

Questions (1030)

Bríd Smith

Question:

1030. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to ensure consumers use less imported beef products and greater amounts grown locally especially during the recent crisis and delays in imports and the implications that importing and exporting beef has for climate concerns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7178/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Subject to meeting the relevant regulatory and control requirements, and where relevant, the payment of tariffs, the import or export of beef is a matter for commercial operators.

It should be noted that, according to CSO data, between January and Oct 2020, Ireland imported approximately 24,000 tonnes of beef at a value of €106 million. In the same period, Ireland exported almost 500 million tonnes of beef at a value of €1.88 billion. Bord Bia continues to support quality assured Irish produce through promotion campaigns on the domestic market as well as in export markets.

The European Commission's medium term outlook shows that the EU as a whole imported 348,000 tonnes of beef in 2020 (down from 386,000 tonnes in 2019) and this figure is projected to grow by 0.6% annually in the period to 2030. Total beef consumption in the EU is estimated at 6.5 million tonnes.

My Department will continue to closely monitor the level of beef imports into the EU as an important factor in the overall supply balance in the EU market.

With regard to the EU-Mercosur trade agreement in particular, I have emphasised my concerns about the negative impact this would have for the Irish beef sector in particular. It is also very important that the environmental sustainability chapter of the agreement is respected and rigorously enforced.

Fishing Industry

Questions (1031)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

1031. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if, with the voisinage agreement in place to allow fishing vessels from Northern Ireland to operate in Ireland's waters, there is a mechanism in place to stop UK vessels registering as vessels in Northern Ireland to access Irish waters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7274/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Voisinage arrangements between Ireland and Northern Ireland provide for reciprocal fishing access, allowing Irish registered vessels to fish in the 0-6nm zone in Northern Ireland and NI vessels to fish in the 0-6nm zone of Ireland.

The European Commission’s UK Task Force has advised that, under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and UK, the Voisinage arrangements are valid. The European Commission has further advised that, because of the third country status of the UK (and NI), fishing in the 0-6nm zone of Ireland is now covered by the Sustainable Management of External Fishing Fleets Regulation (Regulation 2017/2403). Therefore, eligible NI vessels need to obtain a fishing authorisation in accordance with Article 34 of the SMEFF Regulation.

My Department is in contact with the European Commission regarding the verification of Northern Ireland vessels seeking authorisation to fish in the 0-6nm zone of Ireland under the Voisinage arrangements in order to ensure such vessels are eligible under Irish legislation.

Under section 10(2) of the Sea-Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Act 2006, as amended by the Sea-Fisheries (Amendment) Act 2019, persons on board vessels owned and operated in Northern Ireland are permitted to fish in the waters within 0 - 6 nm of the baseline. This access is conditional on the persons and vessels complying with any obligation which would apply in the same circumstances to an Irish sea-fishing boat.

Flood Relief Schemes

Questions (1032)

Cathal Crowe

Question:

1032. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if provisions are being made to issue emergency funding to farmers in 2021 who have been hit by flooding issues. [7281/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department continues to monitor the situation in relation to the flooding of farmland in general and specifically farmyards where it arises. While some parts of the country have experienced above average levels of rainfall in January 2021, data for Shannon Airport indicates that rainfall was 103% of normal average rainfall levels for the month. Some localised flooding may occur but, so far, in 2021 there are no significant national flood events reported. As such, there are currently no plans for emergency funding.

It should be noted that my Department issued payments of almost €1.73 billion directly to farmers under a range of schemes in 2020.

Forestry Sector

Questions (1033)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

1033. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 949 of 3 February 2021, the financial cost for the person to withdraw from the scheme (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7317/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The contract for this applicant expired in 2007 when the final premium was issued to the applicant so premiums paid will not be recouped.

However, the applicant submitted a Felling application which was granted in November 2018. One of the conditions of a felling licence is that the area must be replanted.

The Forestry Act 2014, which replaced the Forestry Act 1946, requires forest owners to replant clearfelled areas. This includes areas clearfelled under a felling licence or excessively thinned areas or for un-licenced clearfell operations. This requirement which was also contained in the Forestry 1946 Act is to prevent deforestation.

The Department issues a Replanting Order under Section 26 of the Forestry Act 2014 if the landowner does not replant within the time period specified in the felling licence.

Failure to comply with a Replanting Order will result in legal action to enforce it and, if convicted, a person can be subject to a Class D fine or to a fine not exceeding €5,000 for every period of 30 days during which such failure continues.

If the applicant does not wish to replant this particular site, he may apply to the Department to replant an alternative site. However, he must receive prior approval and he will not be entitled to grants or premiums for the alternative site.