Meat Processing Plants

Ceisteanna (456)

Michael Lowry

Ceist:

456. Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps being taken to tackle illegal animal slaughterhouses in view of the discoveries made in Northern Ireland; if he has been in contact with the authorities in Northern Ireland on this matter; the steps being taken to tackle both the illegal slaughter and the supply to these illegal slaughterhouses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11739/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

All slaughterhouses whose meat is destined for human consumption must meet the requirements set out in detailed EU food safety regulations, generally referred to as the ‘Hygiene Package’. These regulations are implemented in Ireland under the European Communities (Food and Feed Hygiene) Regulations 2009, S.I. No 432 of 2009. Large scale slaughter plants operate under the supervision of my Department and smaller slaughtering establishments are supervised by local authorities.

It would not be appropriate for me to comment on individual cases but I can confirm that the authorities in Northern Ireland and my Department have been in contact in relation to this matter. Where specific allegations are made in relation to breaches of the legislation concerned within this jurisdiction, my Department investigates the matter thoroughly and takes appropriate action.

Food Harvest 2020 Strategy

Ceisteanna (457, 461)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

457. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on whether Food Harvest 2020 is failing beef farmers here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11743/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael McCarthy

Ceist:

461. Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the engagement he has had with beef processors to push for a fair price for beef farmers in view of the current bull beef crisis; his views on the impact this will have on Food Harvest 2020 targets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11780/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 457 and 461 together.

Food Harvest 2020 is the result of a collaborative approach to policy making and provides a vision for the beef sector developed and agreed by stakeholders, including farm bodies and processors.

In relation to the beef sector, the period since the publication in 2010 of Food Harvest 2020 has generally been characterised by increases in beef export values and cattle prices. As an indication of Government support for the sector, actions identified in Food Harvest and the subsequent Beef Activation Group Report as necessary for the development of the beef sector have been implemented. Indeed in 2014, I announced operational details of an investment package worth up to €40m to beef farmers in 2014. Among the measures in this investment package are €23m for a Beef Genomics Scheme, €10m for the Beef Data Programme, €5m for the Beef Technology Adoption Programme and €2m in residual payments under the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme. The Government’s investment is a strong vote of confidence in the beef sector.

It would be unrealistic to think that the vision laid down in Food Harvest would never be challenged by market or other conditions. However, to view the significant progress made in the beef sector in recent years as a result of the commitment of Government, farmers and other stakeholders, through the prism of the current market difficulties alone, would, in my view, do a disservice to all of the stakeholders in this critically important sector. The principles laid down in Food Harvest constitute a vision for the sector which I am confident remains valid, despite the current price and specification difficulties. I am committed to ensuring that the measures announced this year, and the new Rural Development Programme, provide the tools to enable beef farmers to reduce costs and improve profitability and to make their enterprises more sustainable.

In relation to the current difficulties between farmers and processors, the Deputy will appreciate that ultimately questions of price and market specification are matters to be determined between the purchasers and the sellers of cattle and it is neither appropriate nor possible for me to intervene directly on these issues. Nonetheless I recently met farmer representatives and processors to discuss the current situation. Following that interaction, I am hopeful that the factories, in collaboration with the farming bodies, will be able to resolve the various issues that have lately caused difficulties for some producers. At my request, Meat Industry Ireland (MII) member companies have kept their livestock offices open to deal with farmers with any particular queries or concerns on the marketing of their stock. MII member companies have made available contact details for each of their main plants to enable farmers to phone them directly.

The relationship between processors and farmers is an interdependent one. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of both sides working together to manage the type and volume of cattle being brought to market so that the supply chain does not undermine the viability of beef production systems for either winter finishers or suckler farmers. The current situation clearly underlines the need for industry operators to improve communication on market trends and signals throughout the supply chain and to address supply chain issues in such a context. An industry-led solution to the current uncertainty is essential to restoring confidence in the sector and I would encourage the various stakeholders to continue their efforts to reach a mutually acceptable outcome.

Single Payment Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (458)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

458. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 577 of 28 May 2013, if he will confirm if the payment was made in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if so, the date of same. [11754/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I wish to confirm that the relevant payments issued on 6 June 2013 directly to the nominated bank account of the person named.

Bord na gCon Remit

Ceisteanna (459)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

459. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position regarding the external review commissioned by his Department on matters relating to Bord na gCon which was recently awarded to consultants (details supplied); and when the report by the company will be finalised. [11762/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department commissioned an independent review of certain matters relating to Bord na gCon in December 2013. The review includes an examination of the legislation underpinning Bord Na gCon, its corporate governance arrangements, the opportunities for increasing commercial income and the sustainability of its borrowings, and the systems for regulating the industry. The review makes recommendations as to any changes required to best place the greyhound industry to meet the challenges that lie ahead, in a business environment that is dynamic and challenging. I expect to receive the final report by 31 March 2014.

Greyhound Industry

Question No. 461 answered with Question No. 457.

Ceisteanna (460)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

460. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on the proposal that the function of greyhound registration be transferred from the Irish Coursing Club to Bord na gCon. [11763/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The Irish Coursing Club (ICC) has been responsible for the Irish Greyhound Stud Book since 1923 and there have been no reported issues with the manner in which the ICC discharges this function. The Irish Coursing Club is subject to the general control and direction of Bord na gCon, which is the statutory body with responsibility for the improvement and development of the greyhound industry, greyhound racing and coursing. Alongside its function of maintaining the Irish Greyhound Stud Book the Irish Coursing Club has also the main function of the regulation of coursing.

The ICC has confirmed that it has systems in place to underpin the welfare of animals participating in coursing events. These include mandatory inspections of hares and coursing venues in advance of the commencement of an event. Greyhounds involved in coursing are subject to the provisions of the Welfare of Greyhounds Act 2011 and the Code of Practice for the care and welfare of greyhounds, published by Bord na gCon. The ICC has assured my Department that it goes to great lengths to ensure the highest standards are adhered to during coursing.

Regarding the supervision of coursing events the ICC ensures that a veterinary surgeon and a control steward are present at all coursing meetings. In addition to this, veterinary staff from my Department and rangers from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (part of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht) carry out random monitoring inspections during the coursing season to verify compliance with the licences and the rules governing animal welfare.

As a further control, a Monitoring Committee on Coursing was established during the 1993/94 coursing season and is comprised of officials from my Department and representatives from both the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the ICC to monitor developments in coursing and in that regard the situation is kept under constant review to ensure that coursing is run in a well controlled and responsible manner in the interests of hares and greyhounds alike.

A very high proportion (98.09%) of the hares captured for hare coursing were returned to the wild at the end of the 2012/2013 season. Against this background as outlined, I have no plans to change the current arrangements for greyhound registrations.

Question No. 461 answered with Question No. 457.

Agriculture Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (462)

Heather Humphreys

Ceist:

462. Deputy Heather Humphreys asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan only received one payment under the income supplement payment scheme; if a further payment will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11792/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The holding in question was restricted under the TB Eradication scheme on 15 November 2013 following the disclosure of 24 reactors. The reactors were removed for slaughter on 13 December 2013 and compensation was paid in respect of these animals under the On Farm Market Valuation Scheme on 10 January 2014.

The person named received an initial month’s payment under the Income Supplement Scheme on 5 February 2014 and payment in respect of a second month (to 13 February 2014) will issue shortly. However, no further payments under this Scheme will fall due as the person named waived her entitlement in the context of receiving permission to move animals into her restricted holding.

Single Payment Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (463)

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

463. Deputy John O'Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive a refund on their single farm payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11798/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department is currently examining land parcels declared under the Single Payment Scheme and other area-based Direct Payment Schemes. As part of this review a number of ineligible features were identified and removed from the parcels declared by the person named. The person named was notified of this decision and of his right of appeal. Following an appeal from the person named my Department has now carried out a full review of land parcels with exclusions declared by the person named and decided to accept the appeal. On this basis, a refund will issue to the applicant in the next few days.

Fisheries Protection

Ceisteanna (464)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

464. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he has any concerns regarding the operation of the MFV Margiris in Irish waters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11808/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The Irish Sea Fisheries Control Authorities are aware of the fact that the fishing vessel Margiris entered the Irish Exclusive Fisheries Zone last week. Control of the vessel within Ireland’s Exclusive Fisheries Zone is a matter for the Irish control authorities. Under the Sea Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Act, 2006, operational matters concerning sea fisheries control are a matter for the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority and the Naval Service, which is independent under the Act in the carrying out of these functions.

The fishing opportunities available to Lithuanian vessels, including within the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone for 2014 are set out in Council Regulation (EU) 43/2014 dated 20 January 2014 on a stock by stock basis. In addition to the fishing opportunities allocated in the Regulation, Lithuania may exchange quota with another Member State under the normal arrangements for exchanging quotas.

Grassland Sheep Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (465)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

465. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason a grassland sheep scheme payment has not issued to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11821/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Payment under the Grassland Sheep Scheme has not issued to the person named yet, as the land parcels declared by the applicant are currently the subject of a review. Once this review is complete the application will be further processed with a view to the issue of payment at the earliest possible date.

Single Payment Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (466)

Pat Breen

Ceist:

466. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 153 of 11 December 2013, when area aid and single farm payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11863/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

As indicated in previous replies to earlier questions from the Deputy my Department is awaiting receipt of testamentary documentation before the application can be fully processed and payment issues to the person named. In this regard my Department will again make contact with the person named to expedite the matter.

Departmental Legal Costs

Ceisteanna (467)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

467. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will set out in tabular form, by reference to each named firm, the amount paid out in respect of legal fees during 2013 by his Department to law firms in or outside the State for services rendered to it; if he will provide in a similar format the amount paid out in respect of legal fees during 2013 by State bodies, including commercial or non-commercial and regulatory bodies established by or under his Department, to law firms in or outside the State for services rendered to it; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11864/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department generally avails of the legal services of the Chief State Solicitor’s Office, however, it occasionally engages private Solicitor firms and Junior and Senior Counsel. Details of such engagements are provided in the table below for the year 2013. With regard to the State Bodies under my Department’s remit, any legal costs are an operational matter for the State Bodies concerned.

Name of Individual/Firm

Reason for procurement

Amount paid - €

T.G. Mc Veagh & Co Solicitors

Swearing of oaths/affidavits

178

M. Linnane Solrs., Ennis, Co. Clare

Costs incurred by Department in Appeal of Compliance Notice – Kilshanny Farmhouse Cheese

4,367

PP Ryan & Co Solicitors

Legal Advice

77,875

Philip Lee Solicitors

Legal Advice

19,384

-

Total for 2013

101,803

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (468)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

468. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when payment under the 2013 disadvantaged area-based payment and the single farm payment schemes will issue to people (details supplied) in County Galway; the reason for the delay in issuing this payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11905/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

With regard to the 2013 Single Payment Scheme, as the person named does not hold any payment entitlements, no payment is due to the person named under the 2013 Scheme. As processing of the application of the person named under the 2013 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was recently finalised, following confirmation of compliance with the Scheme minimum stocking density requirements, the payment due will issue to the nominated bank account of the person named shortly.

Departmental Correspondence

Ceisteanna (469)

Patrick O'Donovan

Ceist:

469. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a lease will be prepared and sent to a council (details supplied) in County Dublin. [11946/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I can confirm that the legal documentation required to give effect to this arrangement has been sent by my Department to the Local Authority concerned for their consideration.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (470)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

470. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a disadvantage areas scheme payment will issue for a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11981/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

As processing of the application of the person named under the 2013 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was recently finalised, following confirmation of compliance with the Scheme minimum stocking density requirements, the payment due will issue to the nominated bank account of the person named shortly.

European Fisheries Fund

Ceisteanna (471)

Michael McCarthy

Ceist:

471. Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if funding will be made available under Article 33(c)1 of the recently agreed European maritime and fisheries fund to compensate fishermen for economic losses caused by recent adverse weather conditions; when this fund will be formally put in place; if he will provide his assurances that payments will be backdated to 1 January 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11990/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

While the proposed Regulation establishing the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) is progressing towards adoption, it is not expected to be adopted in law by the EU institutions until probably June this year. I am aware that the Commission has encouraged Member States to make use of article 33c to contribute to mutual funds established by fishermen to assist fishermen with economic losses caused by adverse climatic events. However, distribution of the EMFF funds amongst Member States has not yet been determined by the EU Commission and pending that, Ireland has been allocated no specific funding under the EMFF at this point.

My Department is working to prepare a new 7-year Operational Programme for the seafood sector under the EMFF. Work on that Programme is dependent on the progress of the proposed Regulation and the allocation of funds by the Commission, so given the likely adoption date of June, the Programme is likely to be finalised towards the end of the year. Decisions on what to do with the finite resources available to Ireland under that Operational Programme will be a key element of that work and I am working closely with all stakeholders in making those hard choices between many competing and worthwhile alternative investment priorities. It is thus premature to consider employing the EMFF for this specific purpose.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (472)

Michael Creed

Ceist:

472. Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will re-examine the extent of an agri-environment options scheme penalty in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork in view of the notification received in respect of a single payment application and the actual reduction which was significantly different; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11999/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The person named was approved for participation in the 2011 Agri-Environment Options Scheme with effect from 1 September 2011 and full entitlements have issued in respect of the 2011 and 2012 Scheme years. A review of the land declared by the person named under the 2013 Single Payment Scheme revealed that one of the land parcels declared by the person named, and also declared for AEOS, contained ineligible features. AEOS payments are made on eligible land only and this led to a reduction in the 75% AEOS payment for 2013 which issued on the 28 November 2013. A further issue was identified relating to the land area claimed on this parcel and in accordance with EU rules, a further reduction and penalty was deducted from the balancing 25% payment which issued on the 23 December 2013. My Department issued two statements to the person named advising them of the reductions/penalty amounts.

The applicant has sought a review of the decision to reduce the eligible area of the land parcel in question and this review is currently being undertaken. My Department will be in direct contact with the person named regarding the outcome of the review once this verification check has been completed. If the applicant is not satisfied with the outcome of the review, he can appeal his case to the independently-chaired Appeals Committee. If the review and/or appeal results in a change in the eligible area of the parcel, the AEOS payment to the person named will be amended accordingly and reimbursement will be made if appropriate.

Fish Quotas

Ceisteanna (473)

Noel Harrington

Ceist:

473. Deputy Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the total allowable catch of all species allocated to a fishing vessel (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12050/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The allocation and authorisation of fishing opportunities to the named vessel are made by the Lithuanian authorities and details of allocations to non Irish fishing vessels is not a matter for my Department. The fishing opportunities available to Lithuanian vessels, including within the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone for 2014 are set out in Council Regulation (EU) 43/2014 dated 20 January 2014 on a stock by stock basis. In addition to the fishing opportunities allocated in the Regulation, Lithuania may exchange quota with another Member State under the normal arrangements for exchanging quotas.

Control of the vessel within Ireland’s Exclusive Fisheries Zone is a matter for the Irish control authorities. Under the Sea Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Act, 2006, operational matters concerning sea fisheries control are a matter for the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority and the Naval Service, which is independent under the Act in the carrying out of these functions.

Beef Industry

Ceisteanna (474)

Seamus Kirk

Ceist:

474. Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine in view of the serious crisis in the beef sector here, the measures he is planning to support primary producers in the industry. [12059/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I recently announced the operational details of an investment package worth up to €40m to beef farmers in 2014. Among the measures in this investment package are €23m for a Beef Genomics Scheme, €10m for the Beef Data Programme, €5m for the Beef Technology Adoption Programme and €2m in residual payments under the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme. The Government’s investment is a strong vote of confidence in the beef sector. It exemplifies the smart, green growth initiatives envisioned in the Food Harvest 2020 strategy and, coupled with additional support measures under the new Rural Development Programme, will underpin the development of a sustainable beef sector with long-term growth potential.

In addition suckler farmers will benefit from the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) which was agreed under the Irish Presidency last year. Under Pillar I suckler farmers will continue to receive an annual direct single farm payment and under Pillar II there will be a new Rural Development Programme (RDP). As yet no final decisions have yet been made on the measures to be included in the new Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2014-2020 but it will be a key support in enhancing the competitiveness of the agri-food sector, achieving more sustainable management of natural resources and ensuring a more balanced development of rural areas.

I recently published a consultation document on the new RDP, which sets out a range of proposed measures for inclusion. The main areas proposed for support for the beef sector are:

- a substantial new agri-environment/climate scheme (GLAS), which will build on the progress made under REPS and AEOS. This will provide for a maximum payment of €5,000 for up to 50,000 farmers, and a further payment of up to €2,000 for a limited number of farmers who take on particularly challenging actions,

- continued strong support for disadvantaged areas (now Areas of Natural Constraint), to the tune of about €195 million per year,

- incentives for on-farm capital investment,

- knowledge transfer and innovation measures, aimed at underpinning farm viability, sustainability and growth through the adoption of best practice and innovative solutions, including the beef sector,

- a beef data and genomics measure worth up to €52 million per year aimed at improving the genetic quality of the beef herd, and

- other supports aimed at collaborative farming, artisan producers, organic farming, etc.

Primary producers in the beef sector will be able to apply for any or all of these measures over the lifetime of the programme, as suits their particular enterprise, once the draft RDP has been approved. In keeping with the timelines agreed at EU level, it is intended to submit a draft of the new RDP to the European Commission in the second quarter of 2014. This draft will then form the basis for detailed discussions over a number of months with the European Commission.