Brexit Data

Ceisteanna (296)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

296. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the number of SPS and fisheries control officials who will be operational on 29 March 2019 (details supplied) will be provided; and if not, the reason therefor in view of the fact that the Minister for Finance has provided the number of additional customs officials who will be operational on 29 March 2019. [44514/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

In line with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade-coordinated ‘whole of Government’ approach to Brexit, my Department is planning for an orderly Brexit which involves, inter alia, a transition period to the end of December 2020. Key Government decisions in this regard have been made in July and September 2018 in relation to staffing and IT resources, as well as in relation to engagement with the relevant ports and airports as regards the infrastructure needed to carry out SPS and fisheries controls.

In Budget 2019, €7m was provided for the commencement of a phased process of Brexit-related recruitment of additional staff and the procurement of ICT hardware and software to carry out the anticipated increased volumes of import controls and export certification - €4m for staffing and €3m for ICT. The necessary arrangements to commence the staff recruitment process are currently being put in place. The precise number of staff across the various workstreams that will be in place by 29 March 2019 is not yet known, given that the assignment of staff will be an ongoing process over the period to the end of 2020, starting with an initial intake in early 2019.

Animal Disease Controls

Ceisteanna (297)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

297. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the controls in place in view of the confirmation of a case (details supplied); the amount of live trade with this jurisdiction; and the actions being taken to protect farmers and livestock here. [44516/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Ireland has been recognised by the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) as having a controlled BSE risk status since 2008. To achieve this status, a number of control measures must be demonstrated effectively for 7 years prior to 2008 and each year thereafter including:

- A ban on the feeding of meat and bone meal to ruminants

- Systematic testing of feed supplies

- Effective rendering processes

- Active and passive animal level surveillance and testing for the disease

- Ante-mortem checks conducted by veterinarians on all animals prior to slaughter to ensure that only healthy animals enter the food chain

- The removal and destruction, on a precautionary basis, of certain specified risk materials from slaughtered animals in line with EU legislation and OIE requirementsThese control measures have resulted in Ireland having an extremely low incidence of BSE, the last classical BSE case was identified in 2015. As a direct result, a number of trading partners have re-opened their beef markets to Irish beef and live cattle. Under OIE rules, Ireland can apply for the lowest risk status available, “negligible BSE risk status” in January 2021.

The number of cattle from Scotland that have entered the state in 2018 currently stands at approximately 170 animals. Ruminant animals can only enter intra-community trade if they comply with the corresponding trade directives.

For bovine animals, the intra-trade certificate includes the following assurance:

The animals come from the holding/s and, where applicable, an approved assembly centre, and the area/s which, in conformity with Union or national legislation, is/are not subject to any prohibitions or restrictions for reasons of animal diseases affecting bovine animals.

Tillage Sector

Ceisteanna (298)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

298. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on the recommendations of the report on the tillage sector by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine; the timeframe for the implementation of these recommendations; the progress on each recommendation to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44517/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

During a discussion in the Dail last April on the Future of the Tillage Sector I welcomed the publication of the report on the ‘Future of the Tillage Sector in Ireland’ prepared by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The overall objective of the report is closely aligned with the actions for the tillage sector contained in Foodwise 2025, which is the blueprint for the development of the agri-food sector overall. As part of that Dail discussion I outlined a range of ongoing measures and initiatives that my Department provides in support of the sector.

The crop evaluation and certification programmes run by my Department are designed specifically for Irish conditions to improve productivity and competitiveness in the sector. Average yields of control varieties in the cereal Recommended List trials have increased by 27% over the last 21 years. These programmes provide essential information for the brewing and distilling sector as well as assessments on milling and agronomic traits.

As a further support to tillage farmers the Tillage Capital Investment Scheme under TAMS II covers specific areas of investment including Minimum Disturbance Tillage Equipment, Sprayers, Fertiliser Spreaders and increasing Grain Storage and Drying capacity.

In addition to TAMS, the GLAS tiered entry system prioritised tillage farmers who chose the “minimum tillage” or “catch crop establishment” environmental actions. Furthermore in order to assist tillage farmers, and in particular specialist malting barley growers, my department decided to grant a special exemption from the Basic Payment Scheme “three crop rule” to farmers that entered GLAS and committed to establish a catch crop on all of their tillage area.

Like other EU member states Ireland is deficient in protein production and imports a significant portion of its requirements each year. In this context I was pleased to be able to announce earlier this year the extension to the Protein Aid Scheme for 2018 with the same level of funding as 2017.

I have long believed that the elimination of fertiliser tariffs and anti-dumping duties would help farmers, including tillage farmers, reduce their input costs and have actively pursued this at EU level. The EU Commission undertook to complete an interim review of anti-dumping measures in relation to fertilisers in 2018 and my officials are now examining the initial outcome of this review.

In 2017 to support wider access to low cost finance, I extended the Agriculture Cashflow Support Loan Scheme to specifically include the tillage and horticulture sectors through the provision of national funds. In further support Budget 2018 provided for a Future Growth Loan Scheme, which will be rolled out in early 2019. The scheme will provide up to €120 million in long term, unsecured investment finance for farmers and small scale companies in the food and seafood sectors.

Finally, a key issue that will impact on the development of the agri-food sector, including tillage, in the future will be the outcome of negotiations on the CAP post 2020. I am committed to ensuring that the policy is adequately financed and measures are supportive of Irish agriculture.

Market Access

Ceisteanna (299)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

299. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the progress on acquiring sheep and beef meat access to China. [44518/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The opening earlier this year of the Chinese beef market is the result of years of cooperation and hard work on the part of my Department, the Irish Embassy in Beijing, Bord Bia, and the Irish beef industry. It is a hugely significant achievement for our industry, as well as an excellent endorsement of our world-class safety standards and product quality.

Three beef plants were approved by the Chinese Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA) in April. During my Trade Mission to China in May, it was confirmed that a further three beef plants had met the required standards for approval. These plants were subsequently formally approved and listed by CNCA in June. This was a great result and reflects the on-going work in this area.

The beef trade has now commenced, with product already having arrived into China. My officials continue to make progress on various technical issues and the focus now is on trying to get additional plants approved and listed by the Chinese authorities.

As I have previously stated, the role of the Government is to open up market access and to remove barriers to trade; the industry must then make its own decisions in relation to market priorities. But I hope that Irish beef exports will follow the same success that our dairy and pigmeat sectors have enjoyed in China to date.

As part of the Trade Mission to China last May, I met with the Chinese Minister for Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Minister Han Changfu, and signalled that Ireland was interested in commencing the process for sheepmeat access. I was delighted that the Minister Han Changfu chose to visit Ireland earlier this month. Together we signed a new Action Plan for Cooperation between our Ministries for 2019 to 2021. The first meeting of the Joint Committee on Agricultural Cooperation (JCAC) between both Departments followed our bilateral meeting. The Minister also visited a sheep farm in Cork. Although we are now at the very start of the process for sheepmeat access, I hope that we will be able to make progress next year.

Beef Industry

Ceisteanna (300)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

300. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of producer organisations in the beef sector that have registered with his Department; and the name of each such organisation. [44519/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Following the establishment of the Beef Roundtable in 2014, the Dowling Report recommended that my Department consider legislating for the recognition of Producer Organisations in the beef sector.

Following this, consultations with a range of stakeholders took place. Subsequently, Statutory Instrument (SI) No. 49 of 2016 was signed into law, establishing the legal basis for recognition in Ireland of Producer Organisations in the beef sector.

In early January 2018, following a public procurement process, I announced the awarding of service contracts to seven different facilitators to provide advisory services to prospective Producer Organisations on their establishment and recognition as legal entities. My Department has made funding available for payments to facilitators pertaining to the establishment of Producer Organisations for the sector. The names and contact details of the approved facilitators can be found on my Department’s website.

At the recent meeting of the Beef Roundtable on 3 October, I highlighted the need for stakeholders to recognise their interdependency. At the forum, I urged processors to engage positively with their farmer suppliers to build the sustainability of the sector as a whole to ensure a reasonable return for the farmers upon whom the sector ultimately relies for its continued development. The Beef Roundtable also included discussions on the potential for Producer Organisations to harness new technologies as a way of adding value along the whole supply chain through increased engagement in the bioeconomy.

To date, my Department, has not received any formal applications for the establishment of Producer Organisations. However, a number of interested groups have been in contact with my Department about their potential. I am committed to driving this initiative and my Department has recently engaged with key stakeholders in the sector, to further identify possible barriers to adoption and to promote the uptake of these groups across the sector.

Aquaculture Licences

Ceisteanna (301)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

301. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of the implementation of the recommendations set out in the report of the independent Aquaculture Licensing Review Group; and the recommendations that have been completed and not completed, respectively, to date in tabular form. [44520/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Since receiving the Report of the independent Aquaculture Licensing Review Group my Department has engaged in detailed consideration of the recommendations set out in the Report with a view to their implementation, having regard to the legislative, environmental, technical and public interest issues that arise. My Department has also engaged closely with industry representatives and relevant State Agencies. The core recommendation of the Independent Review was to deal with the licensing backlog by the end of 2019. In response to the priority given by stakeholders to the elimination of the backlog, my Department has been actively working towards the achievement of 300 licence determinations this year with a further 300 projected for 2019.

I can confirm that the target of 300 licence determinations has been achieved two months ahead of schedule. This is a very substantial achievement and gives a clear indication of my commitment and the commitment of my Department to dealing with this issue in a comprehensive manner. I can further confirm that we are fully committed to achieving 300 further licence determinations in 2019 and this will effectively eliminate the shellfish licensing backlog as an issue affecting the industry.

The elimination of the shellfish licensing backlog will be a game changer for the industry and will provide the solid footing for the industry long demanded by industry representatives.

The related recommendations are also being addressed and will be implemented as part of a larger reform of the regulatory process. My Department will be glad to keep the Deputy updated on further developments.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Ceisteanna (302)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

302. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the overview of Ireland’s involvement in the new European joint action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from animal production systems; and the resources and funding being allocated towards this project. [44521/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine (DAFM) supports a broad range of research, development and innovation activities (RDI) in order to develop the efficiency, sustainability and profitability of the agri-food sector in Ireland. As part of our budget allocation, DAFM provides for the participation of eligible research performing organisations (RPOs) in relevant, strategically aligned, trans-national research initiatives.

As part of DAFM’s continuing commitment to strengthening European research collaborations, my Department contributes regularly to strategic regional actions/goals, common to a number of individual member states. These actions are most typically in the form of European Research Area Networks (ERA-NET’s), which are an established, structured and strategic process where Member States agree, on a voluntary basis and in a partnership approach, on common visions and Strategic Research Agendas (SRA) to address major societal challenges.

The current initiative (Novel technologies, solutions and systems to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of animal production systems) is based on the research findings of three established ERA - NETs (FACCE ERA - GAS, SusAn and ICT - AGRI 2) and informed by a significant number of Irish research partners participating in these co-funded programmes. Findings highlight that, in order to bridge the gap between the science and practical implementation of results, all relevant economic, social and environmental dimensions necessary to effect reductions in GHG emissions at a farm level must be incorporated. This, coupled with the urgency of this particular topic, has led to a call for applied, scientific solutions, implementable in a 5 to 10 year time frame.

Ireland’s contribution towards this Joint Call will consist of the contribution of two state funding partners, DAFM and Teagasc. In this case Teagasc will also play a leading role in the administration of the Joint Call and form part of the call secretariat. My own Department, in conjunction with all other funding partners across Europe, will be represented on the Call Steering Committee.

In terms of funding commitments, DAFM and Teagasc have pledged to commit €575,000 and €176,000 respectively (a combined contribution of up to €751,000) in funding for successful Irish participants. Under the National Call Guidelines the total combined DAFM/Teagasc public funding to eligible Irish research performing organisations (RPOs) shall not be greater than €375,500 per project. This maximum funding is comprised of €287,500 from DAFM and €88,000 from Teagasc.

Bord Bia Funding

Ceisteanna (303)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

303. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the amount of funding allocated in 2016, 2017 and 2018 to Bord Bia's marketing intensification programme; and the provision made for it in budget 2019. [44522/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

A total grant sum is allocated annually to Bord Bia by my Department and voted on by the Oireachtas, in conjunction with the estimates process.

In the context of Budget 2019, I was pleased to announce the allocation of a further €5.3m to Bord Bia for 2019, bringing its total grant in aid to €46.6m for 2019. The final sums allocated to Bord Bia in 2016, 2017 and 2018 were €33.2m, €41.1m and €41.3m, respectively. The 2019 allocation shows a 40% increase in funding for Bord Bia since 2016.

The detailed allocation of non-pay (operational) funds by Bord Bia contained within its voted grant-in-aid is an operational matter for Bord Bia. The PQ has been referred to Bord Bia for further reply.

National Broadband Plan Funding

Ceisteanna (304)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

304. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the capital allocations for the national broadband plan between 2013 and 2027, inclusive, by allocation under the Infrastructure and Capital Investment Plan 2012-2016, the national broadband plan, the Building on Recovery, Infrastructure and Capital Investment Plan 2016-2021, and the National Development Plan 2018-2027, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44298/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Government allocated an initial €275 million in the Capital Plan published in September 2015, for the initial years of the network build-out for the National Broadband Plan State intervention. The €275m represented an initial stimulus, in the knowledge that significant further funding will be required over the lifetime of the proposed 25 year contract.

The total State subsidy to be allocated to the NBP State-led Intervention is to be determined through an on-going procurement and this is reflected in the National Development Plan 2018-2027.

National Broadband Plan Funding

Ceisteanna (305)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

305. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if funding allocated for the national broadband plan but not spent remains in his Department until it is spent; if not, if it is returned to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44299/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004 provides that a maximum of up to 10% of the capital envelopes of each Vote may be carried over to the following year, subject to the approval of the Oireachtas and an Order from the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

Voted allocations which remain unspent at the end of the financial year must be surrendered to the Exchequer, with the exception of any approved capital carryover amounts which are allocated to the subsequent year's Vote.

Broadband Service Provision

Ceisteanna (306)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

306. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the timeframe for the roll-out of broadband of at least 30 Mbps to a location (details supplied) in County Donegal as part of the national broadband plan; if such areas with poor or no broadband coverage will be prioritised during the roll-out phase of the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44261/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The premises referred to by the Deputy is in the AMBER area on the High Speed Broadband Map which is available on my Department's website at www.broadband.gov.ie. The AMBER areas represent the target areas for the proposed State led Intervention under the NBP and are the subject of an ongoing procurement process.

The procurement process to appoint a bidder for the State intervention network is now at the final stage, with evaluation ongoing of the final tender submission received on 18 September. The Taoiseach has asked Mr Peter Smyth, the independent process auditor to the NBP procurement to review the process. Mr. Smyth will submit a report to the Taoiseach and to me as Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.This review will take place in parallel to parallel with the evaluation being carried out by the Department’s procurement team on the final tender.

For those premises currently awaiting access to high speed broadband, practical initiatives will continue to be addressed through the work of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce to address obstacles and improve connectivity in respect of existing and future mobile phone and broadband services.

Under this Taskforce, engagement between telecommunications operators and local authorities through the Broadband Officers is continuing to strengthen. These Broadband Officers are acting as single points of contact in local authorities for their communities. The appointment of these officers is already reaping rewards in terms of ensuring a much greater degree of consistency in engagements.

Cyber Security Data

Ceisteanna (307)

Brian Stanley

Ceist:

307. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of cyber attacks recorded here in 2017 and to date in 2018; the number of these attacks that were successfully prevented; the number of these attacks believed or known to have been committed by cyber criminals; and the number of these attacks committed by State actors. [44266/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

My remit includes responsibility for both the policy and operational components of Cyber Security, and as such, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is located in my Department. The NCSC is responsible for acting as a conduit for information to constituents including operators of Critical National Infrastructure, businesses, Government Departments and Agencies, and also for providing expert advice and analysis on cyber security issues and for coordinating significant incidents. The NCSC acts as a central contact point in the event of a government or nation-wide cyber security incident affecting the State and continues to work with the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer and the Departments and Agencies that own these systems to mitigate and manage these risks. The expertise contained within the NCSC covers a broad range of capabilities including computer science, software engineering, malware analysis and information technology forensics. The unit also participates in international exercises.

The NCSC has been assigned a number of new roles under the recently signed Security of Network and Information Systems Regulations, which taken together, will mean that the State will have coordinated systems for the management of cyber related risk to Critical National Infrastructure, and for the assessment and response to incidents.

Details of the operational work of the NCSC are generally not publicly released for security reasons.

Cyber Security

Ceisteanna (308)

Brian Stanley

Ceist:

308. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the funding allocated to the National Cyber Security Centre as part of his Department's budget per annum since the publication of the cybersecurity strategy in 2015. [44267/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is located within my Department, and serves to provide a range of cyber security services to owners of Government IT infrastructure and Critical National Infrastructure (CNI). The expertise contained within the NCSC covers a broad range of capabilities including computer science, software engineering, malware analysis and information technology forensics. The NCSC is also home to the national Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT-IE) and is responsible for acting as a conduit for information to constituents (including operators of Critical National Infrastructure, Government Departments and Agencies), providing expert advice and analysis on cyber security issues and for coordinating significant incidents. Like similar bodies in other jurisdictions, the NCSC acts as a central contact point in the event of a government or nation-wide cyber security incident affecting the State. The NCSC received International Accreditation in 2017.

The allocations to the National Cyber Security Centre, exclusive of staffing, over the period 2011 to 2017 are as follows:

Year

Allocation

2011

250,000.00

2012

250,000.00

2013

250,000.00

2014

250,000.00

2015

250,000.00

2016

750,000.00

2017

1,950,000.00