Herd Data

The deferred reply under Standing Order 42A was forwarded to the Deputy.

Ceisteanna (246)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

246. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of suckler herd numbers per county in each of the years 2010 to 2017, in tabular form; and the number of suckler farmers per county [5163/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I will forward the information sought by the deputy in relation to the breakdown of suckler farmers by county shortly.

I am very much aware of the importance of the suckler sector to Ireland's rural economy and the wider agrifood industry. My Department currently provides a range of supports to the suckler herd. A number of direct payment and grant schemes provide vital income and investment support to the suckler sector, including BPS, ANC, GLAS and TAMS.

The Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) is the main support specifically targeted for the suckler sector, which provides Irish beef farmers with some €300 million in funding over the current Rural Development Programme period. Responding to significant demand, last year I reopened the BDGP programme for new entrants, reflecting the success of this programme, which targets both the environmental footprint and the profitability of the suckler herd through improving the genetic merit in participating herds. There are currently approximately 25,000 herds covered between the two schemes.

The deferred reply under Standing Order 42A was forwarded to the Deputy.

Forestry Data

Ceisteanna (247)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

247. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the planting targets in hectares in each of the years 2010 to 2017, in tabular form; the number of hectares planted in each year; and the number of hectares planted out of each annual target set on a percentage basis. [5165/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The National Development Plan 2007-2013 set out planting targets for the period 2007 - 2013 at 10,000ha per annum. The figure for 2014 is based on the maximum planting level achievable within the budget provided that year, which was 7,000ha. Targets for 2015 - 2020 are set out in the Forestry Programme 2014 - 2020. The following table lists these figures;

-

Target

Planted   (ha)

% of   target achieved

2010

           10,000

8,314

83%

2011

           10,000

6,653

67%

2012

           10,000

6,652

67%

2013

           10,000

6,252

63%

2014

             7,000

6,156

88%

2015

             6,000

6,293

105%

2016

             6,660

6,500

98%

2017

             7,140

5,536

78%

Forestry Sector

Ceisteanna (248)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

248. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his attention has been drawn to concerns expressed by farming groups regarding the decision taken by the Forest Service to increase the compulsory broadleaf area from 10% to 15% is the wrong approach. [5166/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Let me state at the outset that all relevant stakeholders, including the farming organisation concerned, were informed in advance of this proposal to increase in the minimum mandatory broadleaf requirement per site from 10% to 15%. No objections were raised at the time.

A specific condition of State aid approval for the Forestry Programme 2014-2020 is to aim for annual planting of 30% broadleaves; at this point in the Programme, this target has not been achieved. The Department carried out a Mid-Term Review(MTR) of the Forestry Programme during 2017 and our analysis showed that the 2018-2020 afforestation target levels and the broadleaf planting target of 30% of overall planting may not be achieved within existing structures.

In response to these issues a suite of proposals were included in the MTR to encourage more landowners to plant broadleaves. In addition to the increase in the minimum mandatory requirement per site for broadleaves referred to in the Deputy’s question, the following initiatives were also included;

- A 7% increase in grants and a 5% increase in premium rates for broadleaf and diverse conifer planting categories;

- Additional support for broadleaf management in the form of a second thinning grant;

- Tree guards and deer fencing grants are being introduced as part of a new “Forest Fencing and Tree Shelter Scheme” to reduce the risk of deer damage for existing broadleaf forests.

- Agroforestry premiums have been increased from €280/ha to €615/ha with the grant rate increased from €3,950/ha to €5,750/ha.

The Department is confident that the introduction of these measures will ensure that Ireland meets its commitment under our State Aid approval to reach the broadleaf planting target of 30% of overall planting.

Trade Agreements

Ceisteanna (249)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

249. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on the reports that the European Commission is to propose a yearly tariff rate quota of 90,000 tonnes of beef, 20,000 tonnes more than offered in October 2017, to South American countries in the latest round of Mercosur negotiations; and if a final deal in which a beef offer is a component will not be supported. [5167/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I do not propose to comment on speculation about likely developments in relation to the EU-Mercosur trade negotiations. Ireland's position is well-known as regards our opposition to any agreement that would have negative consequences for the Irish and EU agriculture sectors, and for the beef sector in particular. It has been reiterated many times, by myself at Council of Agriculture Ministers meetings and through direct contacts with Commissioners Hogan and Malmstroem, by other Ministers in the relevant EU Trade policy fora, and by the Taoiseach at European Council and through his own direct contacts, most recently with Commission President Jean Claude Juncker and French President Emmanuel Macron.

I have been very consistent in expressing Ireland's very grave concerns about the offer of a beef tariff rate quota of 70,000 tonnes made by the EU to Mercosur last October, and our determination not to have this exceeded.

I believe there is a need for continued vigilance in relation to the conduct of these trade negotiations, and I will continue to insist that they are handled appropriately, and in a manner that safeguards the interests of the Irish and European beef sector. I will also continue to work very closely with Member State colleagues in this regard. In particular, I believe full account must be taken of the findings of the Commission’s own assessment of the cumulative impact of trade deals on the agrifood sector, and the potentially very damaging impact of Brexit on an already delicately balanced EU beef market.

Animal Slaughtering Standards

Ceisteanna (250)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

250. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on the sentiments expressed by persons (details supplied) with the policy of some meat factories and his Department to implement a clean sheep policy. [5172/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Food legislation requires that primary producers rearing animals or producing primary products of animal origin are to take adequate measures to ensure the cleanliness of animals going to slaughter. My Department has, accordingly, developed a clean livestock policy which has been agreed with farmer, haulier and Food Business Operator stakeholders. The policy document was finalised in February 2017. This policy is a public health measure, intended to reduce the potential risk to consumers that may arise if meat is contaminated by dirty fleeces.

The cleanliness of a fleece is related to the farming practices from where the sheep originates as well as being influenced by the stakeholders along the supply chain. All stakeholders can influence the cleanliness of the sheep fleece.

Teagasc has produced “A Guide for Sheep Producers”, which sets out key advisory recommendations for sheep producers to assist them in the production of sheep with fleece that are suitable for slaughter for human consumption, a copy of this guide was issued to all registered flockowners along with the 2017 sheep census forms in early December 2017. My Department has also written to all sheep farmers and transporters directly. Full details regarding the policy are available on the Department's website - https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/foodsafetyconsumerissues/foodsafetycontrolsonmeat/cleanlivestockpolicy/

The production of sheep meat suitable for human consumption is the primary objective and responsibility of the food business operator in line with food legislation. Each food business operator must draw up procedures to demonstrate how they achieve this. This involves a fleece evaluation and actions, as necessary, to ensure cleanliness of the fleece prior to slaughter.

My Department oversees the production of sheep meat to ensure that it meets the standards necessary for consumers and our trading partners.

The need for an effective clean livestock policy is regarded as being very important not just in terms of basic food safety, but also as a reputational issue for Ireland’s meat industry and our export trade.

Our clean livestock policy is vital for the protection of the consumer and to protect our export markets.

Fur Farming

Ceisteanna (251)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

251. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if there have been new applications for fur farming licences in the past 12 months. [5219/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

There have been no new applications for fur farming licences in the last 12 months.

Fur Farming

Ceisteanna (252)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

252. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 132 of 24 January 2018, if his attention has been drawn to the fact parts of the 2016 inspection reports have not been fully complied with including many answers left blank, an absence of signatures and details of identification of businesses; his views on whether this conforms to rigorous controls; if his Department has pursued the completion of these incomplete inspection reports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5220/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I presume that the Deputy is referring to information released on foot of a Freedom of Information request processed in 2017.

In that request an individual sought all inspection reports for fur farms in 2016. My Department is required to comply with the Freedom of Information Act 2014 and in that regard certain information, in this case the business name and address the subject of the inspection, was redacted under Section 32 and Section 37 of the Act.

 The questions referred to by the Deputy were not applicable at the time the inspection was being carried out i.e. the questions referred to the period in which slaughter is carried out. I understand that the reports referred to were loaded and signed off electronically on my Department's Farm Inspections Database.(AFIT).

Road Safety

Ceisteanna (253)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

253. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the details of the regulation on sulky racing. [5238/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The use of sulkys on the public roads is governed by the Road Traffic Acts which impose an obligation on persons engaged in any activity on the public roads, including the driving of sulkys, to drive their vehicles with due care for other road users and not to indulge in dangerous driving of the vehicles.

In addition to the Road Traffic Acts, local authorities also have powers under the Control of Horses Act, 1996 to introduce bye-laws regulating activities involving horses in their respective functional areas.

All persons employing animals for any purpose , including sulky drivers, must also comply with the Animal Health & Welfare Act 2013 which prohibits a person from carrying out any activity in a manner that causes unnecessary pain and suffering or endangerment to the health or welfare of an animal in their control.

Apprenticeship Data

Ceisteanna (254)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

254. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of persons enrolled in apprenticeships in his Department and State agencies under his remit by gender in tabular form; and if he will list each such apprenticeship. [5249/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

There are no individuals currently enrolled in apprenticeships in my Department.

The question of apprenticeships within the State Agencies under the aegis of my Department is an operational matter for each Agency.

In accordance with the new procedures effective since September 2016, as notified by the Clerk of the Dáil, my Department has provided contact details for all of our agencies. Details of dedicated email addresses for State Bodies are available for Oireachtas members through the Clerk of Dáil Éireann.

Litter Pollution

Ceisteanna (255)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

255. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the measures his Department has in place to address roadside littering; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5016/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

My Department provides the legislative framework to combat litter pollution.  Under the Litter Pollution Acts 1997 to 2009, the management and enforcement response to littering is a matter primarily for  local authorities. While enforcement is indeed critical, I believe that a sustainable long term solution to the issue of litter is best achieved through a combination of enforcement, education, awareness and, of course, individuals taking personal responsibility. My Department commissions an annual National Litter Pollution Monitoring Survey (NLPMS) Report (http://litter.ie).  Overall, the trend of results demonstrates that the litter position has been improving, year on year.  When the 2016 NLPMS report identified a very slight deterioration in the litter situation, I took immediate action on the issue by increasing 2017 funding for the local authority Anti-Litter and Anti-Graffiti Awareness Grant Scheme (ALAGS) scheme by 28% to €884,000.  I also increased funding for the National Spring Clean by €40,000.  I intend to maintain these levels of increased funding for 2018.   My Department also supports the Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) Litter League, and has negotiated agreements with the banking industry and the chewing gum industry. It also supports the Green Schools Programme, which is key to effecting a long-term change in societal attitudes towards litter disposal.

Last year, I also launched a €1.3 million anti-dumping initiative, through which my Department works in partnership with local authorities and community organisations in identifying high risk or problem areas, developing appropriate enforcement responses and carrying out clean-up operations. 229 anti-dumping projects throughout Ireland were supported in 2017. These included monitoring and surveillance of dumping black-spots and the development of an integrated and effective approach to dealing with this issue.

Litter Pollution

Ceisteanna (256)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

256. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if a national campaign to highlight the negative impact littering and dumping has on the environment and the local community will be initiated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5017/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

My Department takes a multifaceted approach to tackling the litter and dumping problem, incorporating enforcement, public awareness and education.  Funding is made available to support a range of anti-litter initiatives to combat litter across the country, including: - The Local Authority Anti-Litter & Anti-Graffiti Awareness Grant Scheme

- The National Spring Clean,

- The Green Schools Program, and

- Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) - Litter League.

The Anti-Litter and Anti-Graffiti Awareness Grant Scheme support projects that promote greater public awareness and education in relation to litter and graffiti. Typically, projects include local media campaigns, clean-ups, primary/secondary school competitions, exhibitions and the production of videos, posters and leaflets which all contribute to raising awareness around the effect that littering has on our environment.  

In recognition of the impact of illegal dumping on communities across the country, I launched an anti-dumping initiative in 2017 to provide funding for projects tackling illegal dumping including the provision of support for the clean-up, monitoring and surveillance of dumping black-spots. These funds have been used to support 229 clean-up and restorative projects led by community, environmental and sporting groups across the country. The “before and after” reports from the projects that received funding  illustrate the effectiveness of the range of clean-up and restorative projects which have positively impacted on towns and villages across the country.

A review of last year’s initiative has been undertaken to inform a proposed 2018 anti-dumping work programme that will place an increased emphasis on all actors who facilitate the unauthorised movement and disposal of waste, to continue to address dumping black spots, increase awareness of the harmful effects of this illegal activity and target those who show such disregard for their communities and environment.

Postal Codes

Ceisteanna (257)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

257. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of a new Eircode (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5033/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Eircodes are assigned to new property addresses using a valid postal address and verified geo-locations. An Post collects information on new and existing buildings, as well as changes to existing addresses and Ordnance Survey Ireland provides the geo-locations for these buildings.  An Post GeoDirectory, a subsidiary company of An Post and Ordnance Survey Ireland, issue a new release of the GeoDirectory database file on a quarterly basis to Eircode in accordance with their licence agreement. Each new address assigned an Eircode is published on the free to use Eircode Finder website and a notification letter issued to the occupant containing the Eircode of that address.

My Department has requested Eircode to contact and liaise directly with the individual regarding the assignment of an Eircode to this non-unique address.