Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Ceisteanna (617)

Dan Neville

Ceist:

687 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the support for free range chicken production. [9438/07]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Agriculture and Food)

The criteria for free-range poultry production are set out in EU regulations on the marketing standards for poultrymeat. This legislation does not provide for Member States advancing financial assistance to producers. Such funding would contravene EU State Aid rules as it would put producers in one Member State at a competitive advantage vis a vis those in other countries.

My Department's officers are involved with existing and prospective free range producers in such matters as familiarising them with the facilities and standards to be achieved in order to be eligible for the free range designation and in conducting the regulatory inspections. There is no charge for free-range registration.

The poultry sector is eligible for financial assistance under schemes operated by my Department in the animal health and environment protection areas. For example, the Farm Waste Management Scheme was recently extended to the poultry sector. There is also generous assistance available under the Water Chlorination Grant Scheme which commenced operation on 1 February 2007.