Mental Health Services Funding

Question No. 145 answered with Question No. 130.

Ceisteanna (144)

James Browne

Ceist:

144. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Health if the proceeds from the sale of St Senan’s Hospital, Enniscorthy, County Wexford, will be invested in mental health services in the county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9128/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Government policy as set out in ‘A Vision for Change’ is that proceeds from the sale of older mental health assets, such as St. Senan's, will be reinvested in new developments within mental health.

I understand new replacement accommodation has already been delivered for all the mental health care services provided from St Senan's and the delivery of health services has been discontinued at the St Senan's site.

The use of the sales proceeds from the disposal of St. Senan's will be subject to sanction from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. It would be intended that the proceeds of the sale of this property will be invested in much needed mental health facilities in addition to the very significant Exchequer funding required to maintain and improve health infrastructure.

Question No. 145 answered with Question No. 130.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (146)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

146. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health the number of officials and advisors that travelled from his department to the launch of the NDP, NPF in County Sligo; the cost of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9154/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

No officials from my Department travelled to the Project Ireland 2040 launch in Sligo. One advisor travelled with me on the day. No costs were incurred by my Department.

Health Services Funding

Ceisteanna (147)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

147. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health the financial provision that has been made towards the necessary upgrading and expansion of a health facility (details supplied); if specific provision is made in the 2040 capital plan for such developments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9160/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The National Development Plan provides €10.9 billion for Health capital developments across the country.

As is to be expected with a ten-year plan, many proposals are at an early stage and - as with all capital development proposals - will require further appraisal, planning, design and tender before a firm timeline or funding requirement can be established.

It is important to note that the NDP does not include funding allocations for individual programmes, projects or locations.

Health capital projects and programmes currently underway will continue.

Health Services Funding

Ceisteanna (148)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

148. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health if specific provision is made in the 2040 capital plan for upgrading of a health facility (details supplied); the commencement date for such upgrading; the estimated cost of this project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9161/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

On the 16 February 2018, the Government published the National Develop Plan which outlines the capital investment programme for the next ten years, 2018 to 2027. The National Development Plan provides €10.9 billion to invest in infrastructure, equipment and additional service capacity for the public health sector.

It is important to recognise that this is a long-term plan which provides for a large number of Health developments across the country. With this unprecedented capital investment in the Health services, we must ensure that we carefully plan the use of this capital funding. Health capital projects and programmes currently underway will continue to completion. Appraisal and planning across all Community Healthcare Organisations and Hospital Groups, in line with health strategies and demographic needs, will inform the selection of projects and programmes for improvements in health infrastructure, equipment and additional health service capacity.

My Department has asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to you in relation to the current position regarding capital developments at Breffni Care Nursing Unit, Ballyconnell, Co. Cavan.

Hospital Charges

Ceisteanna (149)

Eamon Scanlon

Ceist:

149. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Health his views on whether it is fair for haemochromatosis patients in rural areas to be billed €80 per venesection or phlebotomy therapy in hospitals when patients in St James's hospital, Dublin 8 are not charged; the reason it is not a free treatment in all hospitals; if he will address this discrimination and make it a free service to all haemochromatosis patients that do not hold a medical card; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9199/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Health Act 1970 (as amended) provides that all people ordinarily resident in Ireland are entitled, subject to certain charges, to public in-patient hospital services including consultant services and to public out-patient hospital services. Under Section 52 of the Health Act 1970, as amended by Section 12 of the Health (Amendment) Act 2013, a person who has been referred to a hospital for an in-patient service, including that provided on a day case basis, will have to pay the statutory daily charge, currently €80 per day, up to a maximum of €800 per year. On this basis, where venesection is classed as a day case procedure and is not carried out in an out-patient setting, the public in-patient charge applies.

My Department is currently considering the issue of the application of the public in-patient charge of €80 for venesection in Acute Hospitals as well as broader issues in relation to the treatment of patients with Hereditary Haemochromatosis. A meeting involving relevant personnel in the HSE and the Department of Health is being arranged in that regard.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Ceisteanna (150)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

150. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the status of an operation for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9205/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.

The National Waiting List Management Policy, A standardised approach to managing scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures, January 2014, has been developed to ensure that all administrative, managerial and clinical staff follow an agreed national minimum standard for the management and administration of waiting lists for scheduled care. This policy, which has been adopted by the HSE, sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists.

In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme

Ceisteanna (151)

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

151. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Health if a matter (details supplied) will be investigated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9208/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As the issues raised concerning medical cards and the Nursing Home Supports Scheme are service matters I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

HSE Governance

Ceisteanna (152, 153)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

152. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health the steps he will take to ensure that companies that are awarded HSE contracts do not employ persons on zero hours or if-and-when contracts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9213/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

153. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health the vetting process the HSE undertakes to ensure that contracted agency staff are not employed on bogus self-employment, zero hours or if-and-when contracts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9214/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 152 and 153 together.

I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly on these matter.

Medical Card Administration

Ceisteanna (154)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

154. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Health his plans to include persons with Crohn's disease as part of the next review of the medical card scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9221/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Medical card provision is solely based on financial assessment. In accordance with the provisions of the Health Act 1970 (as amended), eligibility for a medical card is determined by the HSE.  The Act obliges the HSE to assess whether a person is unable, without due hardship, to arrange general practitioner services for himself or herself and his or her family, having regard to his or her overall financial position and reasonable expenditure and every application must be assessed on that basis. Under the legislation, having a particular illness, in itself, does not establish eligibility for a medical card and therefore, the medical conditions of applicants for this scheme are not monitored on that basis. Where the applicant's income is within the income guidelines, a medical card or GP visit card will be awarded.

Every effort is made by the HSE, within the framework of the legislation, to support applicants in applying for a medical card and, in particular, to take full account of the difficult circumstances in the case of applicants who may be in excess of the income guidelines. It should be noted, in certain circumstances, the HSE may exercise discretion and grant a medical card, even though an applicant exceeds his or her income threshold, where he or she faces difficult financial circumstances, such as extra costs arising from an illness. Social and medical issues are considered when determining whether undue hardship exists for an individual accessing general practitioner or other medical services. The HSE affords applicants the opportunity to furnish supporting information documentation to fully take account of all the relevant circumstances that may benefit them in the assessment, including medical evidence of cost and necessary expenses.

Hospital Appointments Status

Ceisteanna (155)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

155. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health when a hospital appointment will issue in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9255/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.

The National Waiting List Management Policy, A standardised approach to managing scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures, January 2014, has been developed to ensure that all administrative, managerial and clinical staff follow an agreed national minimum standard for the management and administration of waiting lists for scheduled care. This policy, which has been adopted by the HSE, sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists.

In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly.

Irish Coursing Club

Ceisteanna (156)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

156. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he will take in relation to a club (details supplied) and Bord na gCon that allowed the participation of a person in the national hare coursing final. [9034/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Under the provisions of the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958, the regulation of coursing is chiefly a matter for the Irish Coursing Club (ICC) subject to the general control and direction of Bord na gCon.

It would be inappropriate for me to comment on an individual case

Basic Payment Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (157)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

157. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason a person (details supplied) has not received farm payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9045/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The person named submitted an application under the 2017 Basic Payment Scheme on 16 June 2017. As this was after the latest date for submitting BPS applications it was deemed late and therefore no BPS payment issued.

The person named has submitted an appeal which is currently under review. My Department will contact the person named directly if further information is required.

Pigmeat Sector

Ceisteanna (158)

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

158. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties that pig farmers are facing with low factory prices for pigs over the past month; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9052/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Price volatility is an ongoing challenge for the pig sector and developments over the last few years simply serve to emphasise the cyclical nature of prices in the industry. Current prices at €1.38.30 c/kg are well below prices at the same time in 2017, which was a very good year for pig  prices, but remain above the level of price in the same period in both 2015 and 2016.

My Department has made a particular effort to support market diversification for the sector over recent years. The importance of this is well illustrated by the dramatic expansion in Ireland’s pig meat exports to the Far East, and to China in particular, against the background of the closure of the Russian market in 2014. And of course the uncertainty around Brexit lends an even greater importance to  trade promotion in international markets. 

In June 2017 I visited Mexico, now the fourth largest global importer of chilled and frozen pork. With Mexican demand for pork continuing to grow I have made gaining access to that market a priority. I also travelled to Japan and South Korea last autumn where I promoted the development of further opportunities for Irish producers in these jurisdictions as I want to continue to diversify the range of markets to which Ireland has access.  Exports to Japan more than doubled to €22m in 2017 putting it in second place in international markets. The new free trade agreement with Japan (JEEPA) should further enhance trade opportunities.

Growth in the Philippines was also strong: up 54 % making it the third largest international market for Irish pigmeat exports.

With Irish production up almost 1% in 2017 and export value increasing some 14% to an estimated €712m, I intend to continue to work with the sector and, by focusing on insight-led growth strategies, continue to take advantage of opportunities for Irish pig meat on international markets.

Afforestation Programme

Ceisteanna (159)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

159. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of afforestation applications which relate to areas of planting of 50 hectares or more and areas of planting less than 50 hectares, respectively; the number of screenings for environmental impact assessments that have been carried out; the number of actual environmental impact assessments that have been carried out; the applications by identification number for which an environmental impact assessment was carried out; the identification number for applications for which appropriate assessment was carried out; the number of hectares planted under the programme for broadleaf species, afforestation of non broadleaf species and reafforestation of non broadleaf species, in each year since the introduction of the new forestry programme 2014 to 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9053/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The EIA Directive (meaning Directive 2011/92/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011 as amended by Directive 2014/52/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014) requires that certain types of development, including afforestation and forest road works, must be assessed to determine the likely environmental effect of the development, before a licence can be granted.

The licensing system operated by my Department, as set out in the Forestry Regulations 2017 (SI 191/2017), (“the Regulations”), provides for an environmental impact assessment (EIA) to be carried out in certain cases. An EIA is mandatory for initial afforestation involving an area of 50 hectares or more, and for forest road works involving a length of 2,000 metres or more. Applications for such projects must be accompanied by an environmental impact statement (EIS), to enable my Department to undertake the EIA. An EIS is an environmental impact assessment report satisfying the requirements of Article 5.1 of the EU Directive and prepared by competent experts. The information to be contained in an EIS is set out in Schedule 4 of the Regulations.

In addition, the Forestry Regulations 2017 provide that all proposed afforestation and forest road works below the mandatory thresholds must be screened for EIA, to consider whether or not significant effects on the environment are likely. This consideration must take into account criteria involving the characteristic of the project, its location, and the type and characteristics of the potential impact, as set out in Schedule 3 of the Regulations. Where it is considered that a proposed sub-threshold development is likely to have significant effects on the environment and should therefore be subject to an EIA, my Department requires the applicant to submit an EIS to enable the EIA to be undertaken.

EIA screening is an assessment undertaken by my Department as part of the normal procedure for evaluating the silvicultural and environmental suitability of a proposed development. The District Forestry Inspector undertakes EIA screening by responding to questions under the various headings: project description; existing land use; cumulative effect and extent of the project; water; soil; protection of Freshwater Pearl Mussel; archaeology; landscape; designated habitats; non-designated habitats; social; accidents; trans-frontier; public participation and NGO participation. This is supported by spatial analysis concerning the area of forest within various hinterlands of the proposed development. In undertaking the EIA screening, the Inspector uses information gained from their scrutiny of aerial photographs and various Geographic Information System (GIS) layers available in the IFORIS mapping system, combined with their knowledge gained through (inter alia ) field inspection (if required) and a review of referral responses (if any) received from consulted bodies, and submissions from third parties.

My Department has various options to address individual environmental concerns that arise in relation to a proposed forest development. For example, specific conditions, such as increased setbacks or exclusions, can be added to the licence, to avoid any impact. My Department may also seek further information in the form of an expert report in relation to, e.g. archaeology; potential Annex 1 habitats; concerns regarding groundwater; and address any potential impacts identified thorough licence conditions. Furthermore, my Department has incorporated several protocols into the assessment process, designed to avoid impact concerning particular sensitivities, e.g. surface water acidification; Hen Harrier; Curlew; Freshwater Pearl Mussel; and Small White Orchid.

Therefore, while the EIA screening process may identify potential environmental impacts, these can often be addressed on an individual basis and do not culminate in a significant environmental impact, which would otherwise trigger an EIA.

Since the introduction in 2015 of the Forestry Programme 2014-2020, to the end of December 2017, my Department has received 5,097 applications received under the Afforestation Grant and Premium Scheme, none of which was greater than 50 hectares. All of these applications underwent a sub-threshold EIA screening as a matter of course, and while various environmental issues were identified (and later resolved, as above), none of these represented a significant environmental impact. Therefore, no EIAs were triggered during this period. It should be noted that although 5,097 applications were received from 2015 to 2017, only 2,878 approved applications went forward to complete planting.

Regarding applications for which appropriate assessments were carried out the following are the identification numbers requested : CN75337, CN73964, CN73727, CN73105, CN73321 and CN77603.

Planting of broadleaf and coniferous species for 2015 and 2016, the last year in which such data is available, is indicated in the table below.

Broadleaf

Conifer

Total

2015

1,263.04

5,029.77

6,292.81

2016

1,270.30

5,229.50

6,499.80

With regard to the re-afforestation of coniferous species, my Department prepares the National Forest Inventory (NFI) every five years. The last NFI was completed in 2012 and the table below indicates the total reforested area by species group. Results from the current NFI are expected to be published in 2018.

Species Group

Area (ha)

%

Sitka spruce

87,835

55.9

Norway spruce

5,563

3.5

Scots pine

1,547

1

Other pines

8,540

5.4

Douglas-fir

3,896

2.5

Larch species

9,106

5.8

Other conifers

1,167

0.7

Sessile & Pedunculate oak

3,277

2.1

Beech

4,231

2.7

Ash

3,831

2.4

Sycamore

1,564

1

Birch species

9,880

6.3

Alder

2,274

1.4

Other long living broadleaves

3,443

2.2

Other short living broadleaves

11,229

7.1

Total

157,382

100

Question No. 160 withdrawn.

Sheep Welfare Scheme

Ceisteanna (161)

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

161. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if all sheep inspections will be deferred until after lambing season in view of the fact that carrying out inspections now would cause severe stress on heavily pregnant ewes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9064/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Inspections under the various EU funded schemes, including the Sheep Welfare Scheme (SWS), are necessary in order to comply with EU regulatory requirements.

The Sheep Welfare Scheme was introduced to contribute to the continued development of animal health and welfare practices in the sheep sector. My Department ensures compliance on the part of SWS applicants by way of on-farm inspections and administrative control checks. The rate of on-farm inspection under the Sheep Welfare Scheme is 5%. These checks are undertaken to confirm that the requisite number of breeding ewes have been retained and to verify that the two scheme actions have been completed.

Every effort is made by Department officials to minimise disruption as much as possible to both the farmer and livestock on the holding in both the timing and undertaking of inspections. Insofar as possible inspections are integrated, to this effect over two-thirds of the SWS on-farm inspections are carried out in conjunction with Ovine Identification & Registration (IDR) inspections under Cross Compliance requirements, which normally take place between the months of April and December. In these circumstances a second farm visit is required towards the end of the scheme year in order to verify that the scheme actions have been satisfactorily completed. The inspecting officer checks that the Scheme Action Record Book has been completed and checks any supporting documentation provided by the applicant. As the ewe count has been previously completed it is not necessary for the inspecting officer to pen and count the ewes again.

The remaining one-third of SWS inspections take place towards the end of the SWS scheme year. The breeding ewe count and the verification of the two scheme actions are completed in one farm visit. Department officials, who are very conscious of all of the animal welfare considerations, endeavour to minimise and avoid stress to livestock on the holding when conducting sheep inspections. When carrying out inspections during the lambing season Department officials adhere to previously agreed protocols, between the Department and the Farming Organisations, aimed at minimising animal stress and preventing the mis-mothering/smothering or injuring of lambs.

I would like to assure the Deputy that I and officials in my Department are very aware of the concerns being expressed. The Deputy will appreciate, however, that I must ensure that the EU regulatory requirements on inspections are complied with in order to protect payments under the various schemes and to avoid substantial EU disallowances.

GLAS Administration

Ceisteanna (162)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

162. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to launch a fourth tranche of the GLAS scheme; and if so, the changes from GLAS 1, 2 and 3. [9074/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The target set out in the Rural Development Programme 2014 - 2020 to approve 50,000 GLAS participants before the end of 2018 has already been achieved. The fact that the RDP target has been achieved almost two years ahead of schedule is a significant achievement on the part of both farmers and my Department and is evidence of the commitment of Irish farmers to the sustainable growth of the Irish agri-food sector into the future.

The GLAS scheme is one of a suite of measures under the RDP schemes and the re-opening of any scheme can only be considered within the overall RDP budget which is currently fully committed. There are no plans to re-open the scheme. My focus now is on managing the ongoing participation of those approved into the GLAS Scheme.

Brexit Supports

Ceisteanna (163)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

163. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to help farmers, especially beef farmers after Brexit. [9076/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Brexit has the potential to have a significant impact across all areas of the Irish agri food sector, including the beef sector.

The agri-food sector is of critical importance to the Irish economy.  Its regional spread means it underpins the socio-economic development of rural Ireland in particular. Farming is an essential part of the social, cultural and economic fabric of the country and it is also part of a wider EU dispensation that values a Common Agriculture Policy built on family farming, food security, high standards of food safety and environmental sustainability. These are values that we hold dear, and so it is critically important when we consider the impact of Brexit that the positive contribution of agriculture to the rural and national economy, and to society in Ireland, and indeed elsewhere in the European Union, is to the forefront in our deliberations.

I and my Department have been very focused over the last 18 months on mitigating the short-term impacts arising from Brexit through practical actions aimed in particular at reducing costs for beef and other farmers.

In addition to the €150 million low-cost loan scheme I introduced under Budget 2017, I announced a further series of dedicated measures, amounting to over €50 million in total, in Budget 2018. I am also working with my colleague, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, on the introduction of the new €300 million Brexit Loan Scheme, in respect of which food businesses will have access to 40 per cent of the funding.

Market diversification is another key component of the Government response to the challenges posed by Brexit, as we seek to reduce our exposure to the UK market and develop alternative markets for our exports. So, for example, market prioritisation research commissioned by my Department and carried out by Bord Bia is informing the selection of Trade Mission destinations as well as my Department’s input to the Government’s Global Footprint Initiative.

Indeed, I will be leaving this weekend on a trade mission to the US and Canada, and will undertake further missions over the remainder of 2018, with a focus in particular on emerging markets that provide opportunities for further growth in agri-food exports.

Referring specifically to the beef sector, I fully acknowledge the contribution that Irish beef farmers are making to the agri economy, with beef accounting for €2.4bn, or almost 18%, of our agri food exports in 2017. The fact that it is founded on a predominantly pasture-based production system gives us a unique marketing advantage throughout the world in opening up new markets for Irish beef.

In addition to increasing markets for processed beef, I have, since I took office, made it a priority to increase the levels of live exports. The results of these efforts are being seen in an increase of 45,000 head, or 30%,in the number of live animals exported in 2017 compared to 2016. Two key elements of this increase were further additional exports of suckler bred animals to Turkey, and an increase in the export of dairy male calves which will have a positive consequence for the market for slaughtered cattle in 2018 and 2019. I see a vibrant live export trade as an important source of income for suckler farmers especially,and will continue my efforts in this area in 2018.

My Department and our agencies will continue to work with the sector to help mitigate the impacts of Brexit, particularly those affecting beef and other farmers, and we will continue to seek a negotiated outcome that will ensure that the trading relationship between the EU and the UK in its entirety post-Brexit will remain as close as possible to the current arrangements.

Sheep Welfare Scheme Funding

Ceisteanna (164)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

164. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the source from which funds for the sheep welfare scheme in 2017 and 2018 were reallocated; and the value for money criteria used when assessing the allocation of such funds. [9106/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The Sheep Welfare Scheme was introduced in December 2016 to contribute to the continuing viability and sustainability of the sheep sector in Ireland. The Scheme is programmed under Measure 14 of the Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2014 - 2020 and it complements the range of other RDP supports available to sheep farmers under schemes such as GLAS, TAMS, Knowledge Transfer and the Areas of Natural Constraint scheme. 

The 2nd amendment to the RDP introduced the Sheep Welfare Scheme. The financial allocation for the scheme was provided for in the RDP by way of additional national financing.

In order to underpin the delivery of value for money from the investment in the RDP, extensive preparatory analyses form the basis of all the schemes and measures in the RDP.  In relation to the sheep scheme, these analyses highlighted particular viability issues within the sheep sector as well as pointing to a strong economic rationale for investing in animal health and welfare.  The sheep sector supports 35,000 farm families directly, as well as several thousand other jobs directly and indirectly in the rural economy.  In 2017 exports from the sector were worth €274 million, an increase of 12% compared to 2016. 

The actions chosen for targeted support under the scheme were those identified as making a meaningful positive contribution to sheep welfare having regard to the systems of production in Ireland and the environment in which Irish sheep production is carried out.  This in turn will have a positive impact on the overall sheep sector.

The scheme will also allow for the collection and generation of valuable data on welfare statistics and practices in sheep farming in Ireland. The data generated by this scheme has the potential to make a significant contribution to the Irish sheep industry beyond the lifetime of the scheme in terms of its ability to provide large scale data on welfare in Irish flocks.