Written Answers. - Venison Industry.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

89 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the value and strength of deer farming and the venison industry; if prospects have improved or otherwise in the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19495/03]

The deer industry is stronger both financially and structurally than it was five years ago. At present there are 300 deer enterprise units here compared to 320 five years ago. They stock up to 40,000 deer from which they produce approximately 700 tonnes of venison for sale annually. These enterprises are larger, more specialised and produce quality assured high value products. Fallow deer is exported to Denmark while red deer is supplied to the supermarket chains in Ireland and the UK and also to hotels and restaurants in Ireland, the UK and US.

The Venison Industry Board is the main representative body in all matters relating to deer farming and marketing of venison, including the development and expansion of home and export markets. Deer farming is included under the area based compensatory allowance scheme. Funding is also available under the scheme of investment aid and alternative enterprises, housing and handling facilities. Funding is also available through the rural environment protection scheme.