Question No. 463 answered with Question No. 460.

Basic Payment Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (464)

Pat Breen

Ceist:

464. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 493 of 5 February 2019, when it is proposed to update the decision made on 14 November 2018 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7857/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

As outlined in the previous answer on 5th February, the commonage land in question is currently being updated and this may impact on a number of farmers who declared this parcel on their Basic Payment Scheme applications. The updates are currently on-going and, once they are completed, any outstanding payments due to the person named will issue.

In addition, the person named submitted an application to my Department under the 2015 National Reserve ‘Young Farmer’ category. The application was successful and the applicant was informed of the allocation from the 2015 National Reserve in a letter dated the 27th of July, 2016. Once the land area for 2015 has been updated, the allocation under the 2015 National Reserve will be reviewed to take account of any additional eligible land area and the person named will be notified in writing of the outcome.

Agriculture Scheme Administration

Ceisteanna (465, 471)

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

465. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the timeline and application details for the farmer low cost loans scheme which was announced in budget 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7862/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

471. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the amount which will be available to farmers to borrow under the farmer low cost loans scheme; the rate on which the funding will be made available; when these funds will be available; the funds which can be used to finance the scheme in view of the fact that it was announced in budget 2018 but is still lacking clarity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7936/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 465 and 471 together.

The Future Growth Loan Scheme has been developed by my Department and DBEI in partnership with the Department of Finance, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) and the European Investment Fund (EIF). It will be delivered through participating finance providers and make up to €300 million of investment loans available to eligible Irish businesses, including farmers and the agri-food & seafood sectors.

This is a long-awaited source of finance for young and new entrant farmers, especially the cohort who do not have high levels of security. It will also serve smaller-scale farmers, who often do not have the leverage to negotiate for more favourable terms with their banking institution.

The loans will be competitively priced, will be for terms of 8-10 years and will support strategic long-term investment in a post-Brexit environment. There is a minimum loan amount of €100,000 for SMEs or €50,000 for primary agriculture. The maximum loan amount is €3,000,000 and loans of under €500,000 will be made on an unsecured basis.

There will be €50 million to €60 million available initially for farmers, within an overall agri-food package of €120 million. Should demand exceed these levels, this can be reviewed.

The Scheme features a two-stage application process whereby initial application is made through the SBCI website. Successful applicants are issued an eligibility reference number which can then be used in an application to one of the participating finance providers. Approval of loans is subject to the finance providers’ own credit policies and procedures. Further information including a FAQ document may be accessed on the DAFM website via the following link: https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/agri-foodindustry/agri-foodandtheeconomy/agri-foodbusiness/futuregrowthloanscheme/.

SBCI recently issued an open call inviting banks and other lenders to become lending partners and this closed on 11 February. SBCI advise that a period of due diligence, which will include the EIF, will now follow. I have urged SBCI to operationalise the Scheme as soon as possible. The Scheme will run for three years from its launch date and further announcements in this regard will be made shortly.

Agriculture Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (466)

Pat Breen

Ceist:

466. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when payments will issue to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7876/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

It would not be appropriate to comment on this matter as it is the subject of ongoing legal proceedings.

Bovine Disease Controls

Ceisteanna (467)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

467. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the study into establishing the prevalence of mycoplasma bovis infection in the national herd has commenced; if the study will differentiate between feedlot produce beef and extensively produced beef; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7878/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

DAFM has recently completed two large studies on the occurrence of Mycoplasma bovis infection in the Irish cattle population.

A seroprevalence survey for Mycoplasma bovis was carried out by DAFM Laboratories in conjunction with Animal Health Ireland during 2018. In this survey, a single bulk milk tank sample was collected from each of 1327 dairy herds and tested for antibodies to M. bovis. This survey found that 595 of the 1,327 samples that were tested (i.e. 45% of the herds that were sampled) yielded a positive result. Detection of antibodies in a bulk milk sample indicates evidence of previous exposure of at least one of the cows that is contributing to the bulk milk tank. Further analysis of results from this study is being planned to identify factors associated with those herds that had a positive bulk milk result.

Mycoplasma bovis is a common cause of respiratory disease in cattle. A second recent study undertaken by DAFM Laboratories was focused on the causative agents of respiratory disease in weaned cattle in Ireland. In this study M. bovis was detected in 16% of cattle that were submitted for post mortem examination and diagnosed with respiratory disease at one of DAFM's Regional Veterinary Laboratories. A previous DAFM study in 2001 identified M. bovis in 18% of pneumonic cattle lungs, suggesting that its contribution to bovine respiratory disease has changed little over the last 15 years.

While these studies did not differentiate between cattle in feedlot systems and those that were more extensively reared at grass, they do provide baseline information on the prevalence of this infection in the national cattle herd and its contribution to bovine respiratory disease in Ireland.

Animal health Ireland provides advice on its website for the prevention and control of endemic or "production" disease in cattle such as those caused by M. bovis infection.

Transport of Animals

Ceisteanna (468)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

468. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on a matter regarding horse transport (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7885/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department would be happy to consider the proposal in respect of the suggested system of approval discs and any required legislative changes in consultation with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

Bovine Disease Controls

Ceisteanna (469)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

469. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of cattle slaughtered from TB programme defined feedlot herds in each of the years 2014 to 2018; his plans to differentiate beef produced from intensive feedlots; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7899/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The following table gives the number of cattle slaughtered from TB programme defined feedlots in each of the years 2014 to 2018. My Department has no plans to differentiate beef produced from intensive feedlots.

-

Animals slaughtered in EU approved plants, originating from TB restricted feedlot herds

2014

161,172

2015

198,202

2016

237,816

2017

263,157

2018

294,811

Single Payment Scheme Payments

Question No. 471 answered with Question No. 465.

Ceisteanna (470)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

470. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of a 2018 single farm payment in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7904/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

A 2018 Basic Payment Application was received in respect of the person named on 26 March 2018.

The processing of his application was completed and an advance payment issued on 16 October 2018. A balancing payment issued 03 December 2018. Both payments issued to the nominated bank account of the person named.

In relation to the query on the Depopulation Grant, the person named did not receive a Depopulation Grant as his TB infected animals were not removed through a depopulation arrangement with the Department.

His animals were removed as TB reactor animals and in-contact TB reactor animals and he was subsequently paid compensation under the On Farm Market Valuation Scheme. The person named received a Reactor/In Contact Payment and additionally Income Supplement Grant payments for the animals removed.

Question No. 471 answered with Question No. 465.

Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme Eligibility

Ceisteanna (472)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

472. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding the redesignation of land; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7938/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Further to the completion of the review of eligible lands under the Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) scheme, which was required by EU regulation, my Department wrote to all impacted farmers advising of the status of their lands under the 2019 ANC scheme. These letters included a form to instigate an appeal. The appeals form is also available on www.agriculture.gov.ie. For any farmer who wishes to appeal the status of a particular townland under the 2019 ANC scheme, an independently chaired appeals process is available.

My Department has received a notification of appeal from the person named in relation to the relevant townland. On foot of this notification, my Department has provided further information in relation to the data underpinning the status of this townland to the person named so that he can base any appeal to the independent Appeals Committee on full information.

Animal Slaughtering Standards

Ceisteanna (473)

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

473. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason farmers are disqualified for quality payments if the cattle exceed 30 months by even a day or a week in view of the fact that the product on the shelf continues to contain the quality assurance logo. [7956/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My understanding is that any additional bonus payments and the conditions attached to qualification for such bonus payments are determined by processors and their customers. Such conditions can include that cattle must be under 30 months at the age of slaughter.

This is a private arrangement and my Department has no role in its design.

GLAS Payments

Ceisteanna (474)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

474. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of GLAS payments for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7960/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The above named was approved into GLAS 2 with a contract commencement date of 1 January 2016 and has received all payments in respect of scheme years 2016.

Administrative checks involving a number of sections within the Department take place on all GLAS claims. All cases must clear validation checks before payment can issue. In this case an issue arose in relation to the participant's BPS application. Department officials are working to resolve this issue. It is expected to be resolved shortly. Once this case clears validations the 2017 advance payment will be processed. GLAS payments are issuing on a weekly basis.

Livestock Issues

Ceisteanna (475)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

475. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his attention has been drawn to the negative impact the lairage services at French ports, including Cherbourg, are having on the beef trade here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8228/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I fully recognise that live exports are an important market outlet for certain sectors of Ireland’s livestock industry. They play a significant role in stimulating price competition in the domestic sector and provide an alternative market outlet for farmers. They are, however, commercial transactions which can be impacted on by various factors.

There are challenges to be expected within the live export trade, and these challenges include that of capacity in lairages in France. It is noted that lairage capacity in Cherbourg has been increased in recent years from approximately 1,500 calves/day to 4,000 calves/day. Department officials are in ongoing communication with the Irish exporters with regard to the need for their co-operative management between each other to ensure that the lairage capacity at Cherbourg is optimised. Industry have been advised to make contact with their business partners in France to explore options around the increase of capacity at Cherbourg.

Bovine Disease Controls

Ceisteanna (476)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

476. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to resist EU proposals to impose a 30-day pre-movement TB test; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8229/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

In March 2016 the European Parliament adopted the new Animal Health Law (Regulation (EU)2016/429). This involved the amalgamation of a multiplicity of legal texts into a single law with the aim of supporting the EU livestock sector in terms of competitiveness, food safety and ease of trade. The Animal Health Law is a key output of the EU animal health strategy ‘Prevention is Better Than The Cure’.

Under the Animal Health Law, several Delegated Acts have been drafted by the Commission, and a consultation process has been undertaken with Member States. One of the Delegated Acts sets out the legislative framework for disease eradication programmes throughout the European Union including specifically that for bovine TB.

The Delegated Act dealing with TB ( to become operational in April 2021) has not been finalised, and is still undergoing scrutiny at Commission level. Ireland is continuing to engage with the Commission and is continuing to make representations to the relevant Commission officials in DG santé. It is anticipated that a public consultation process on the Act will be undertaken circa April 2019.

Livestock Issues

Ceisteanna (477)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

477. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the possibility of increasing quality lairage capacity for calf exports in Cherbourg, France to satisfy increased demand in the market will be investigated; if he will direct his officials to engage with their relevant counterparts and partners at national and regional level in France to increase lairage capacity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8251/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Officials of my Department visited Cherbourg in September last year to discuss this issue with French officials and local lairage owners. Discussions are ongoing with the French authorities on the matter. The provision of additional facilities however depends on commercial decisions by private industry. In January, my officials met with representatives from the IFA to brief them on our visit in advance of their own visit to Cherbourg. My officials also briefed live exporters on the issue at a meeting with the exporters organised by Bord Bia in January.

My Department officials are in ongoing communication with the Irish exporters with regard to the need for co-operative management between each other to ensure that the lairage capacity at Cherbourg is optimised. Industry have also been advised to make contact with their business partners in France to explore options around the increase of capacity at Cherbourg.

Brexit Preparations

Ceisteanna (478, 480, 483, 484)

James Browne

Ceist:

478. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to protect the Irish beef industry in the event of a hard Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8304/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

James Browne

Ceist:

480. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the way in which he plans to protect livestock farmers amid growing uncertainty in relation to Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8306/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

James Browne

Ceist:

483. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to introduce a Brexit support package for farming sectors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8309/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

James Browne

Ceist:

484. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the way in which he plans to ensure that beef holds its position within the UK market post-Brexit in view of the fact that there is little opportunity for market diversification; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8310/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 478, 480, 483 and 484 together.

The agri-food sector is of critical importance to the Irish economy, and its regional spread means it underpins the socio-economic development of rural areas in particular. Brexit, depending on the outcome, has the potential to have a very significant impact on farmers and on the agri-food sector.

There are on-going discussions with the Commission regarding the difficulties facing Ireland, and the assistance that might be required for its agriculture, food and fisheries sectors.

I and my officials have been working very hard for quite some time to sensitise other Member States and the European Commission to the potentially very severe impacts of Brexit on the Irish agri-food and fisheries sectors, and to the likelihood of specific supports being required in order to deal with these impacts. The institutions of the European Union are very well aware of the likelihood of a significant impact of a disorderly Brexit on Ireland’s economy because this has been part of the discussion from the beginning, and indeed this is explicitly recognised in the Commission’s own communication on contingency planning.

Most recently, I held a bilateral meeting with Commissioner Hogan to discuss the potential impact of a disorderly Brexit on the Irish agri-food and fisheries sectors. We discussed the unique exposure of these sectors to the threat of a disorderly Brexit, and the challenges that it could present. I stressed the need to be ready to deploy a range of measures to mitigate the potential impacts on farmers and processors, including through traditional market supports and exceptional aid under the CAP's Single Common Market Organisation regulation, and increased flexibility under State Aid regulations. Commissioner Hogan reiterated the EU’s readiness to respond and support Ireland, and we will remain in contact on these issues as the situation evolves.

Beef Industry

Question No. 480 answered with Question No. 478.

Ceisteanna (479)

James Browne

Ceist:

479. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on the fact that cattle prices here have fallen below the EU average; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8305/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The Beef Sector is an important element of the Irish rural economy and I am conscious of the importance that this key sector plays in rural Ireland. To this effect, I recently launched the Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot, a targeted support of €20 million for suckler farmers specifically aimed at further improving the economic and environmental efficiency of beef production. As well as clear environmental and climate benefits, the BEEP will provide farm gate investment at a time of market volatility and uncertainty relating to Brexit. The pilot has been designed to be as straightforward as possible. Applications will be accepted up until this Friday 22 February, and I would urge all eligible farmers to apply.

Additionally, the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) is currently 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 (RDP) period. This scheme is an agri-environmental measure to improve the environmental sustainability of the national suckler herd by increasing genetic merit within the herd. Also, it should be noted an additional €23 million was secured for the ANC scheme in 2019, which, effectively restored the Budget to pre-downturn levels.

While, I am aware of the current challenges facing beef farmers, I cannot intervene directly in any commodity price. Cattle prices are a matter for the processing industry and the farmers who supply it. Cattle prices are influenced by a variety of factors such as the level of consumer demand, production levels and exchange rate differences. The UK's decision to leave the EU also presents enormous challenges for the entire beef sector.

I am, however, very conscious that the beef sector is currently facing a difficult period. I am deeply committed to fully supporting and developing Ireland’s beef sector. I am strongly of the view that the existing range of supports available to suckler farmers, together with ensuring access to as many markets as possible, both for live animals and beef exports, are appropriate for the continued development of the sector. According to National Farm Survey data, suckler farmers receive support equivalent to approximately €500 per suckler cow on average.

One of the unique strengths of the agri-food sector has been the shared vision for the sustainable development of the sector in Food Wise 2025. It is crucial that we all continue to work together. At the last Beef Round table, I highlighted the need for stakeholders to recognise their inter-dependency and to support the sector through examination of mechanisms to add value along the supply chain and increase the strength of all links in the supply chain, including Beef Producer Organisations.

Officials in my Department are currently engaging extensively with stakeholders in relation to Beef Producer Organisations which have strong potential to help strengthen the position of the primary producer in the supply chain.

Question No. 480 answered with Question No. 478.

Common Agricultural Policy

Ceisteanna (481)

James Browne

Ceist:

481. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position regarding the proposed €97 million cut to the CAP budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8307/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

There are budgetary challenges facing the CAP post 2020, arising not only from the UK's decision to exit the EU, but also from the need to address other EU policy priorities such as migration and security. I would point out that in discussing the funding for the CAP post-2020, we should bear in mind that these discussions are taking place as part of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) post 2020 negotiations, agreement on which is ultimately a matter for Finance Ministers and EU Heads of State and Government.

I am focused on the overall level of the CAP budget post 2020. The MFF post 2020 proposals outline a 3.9% cut to Pillar 1 Direct Payments funding, and a 15% cut to Pillar 2 Rural Development funding. This is unacceptable in my view. The retention of an adequate budget for the CAP post 2020 is a key priority for Ireland.

There is a possibility for Member States to contribute more to the overall EU budget, to mitigate against the cuts proposed in the MFF post 2020 proposals. The Taoiseach has previously indicated that Ireland would contribute more to the EU budget but only if that funding contributes towards the European ideal. The CAP is one such policy. It contributes to job growth and enhancement of the position of the European rural population, delivers on public goods and, post 2020, it will contribute even more towards helping the EU meet its climate and environmental objectives. However, this cannot be achieved without an appropriate budget in place.

I have been advocating strongly amongst my agriculture counterparts to maintain a strong CAP budget. Along with counterparts from France, Spain, Finland, Portugal and Greece, we have called for the restoration of the CAP budget for the 2021 – 2027 period to current levels. Up to 20 Member States have joined this alliance and we will continue to work together in an effort to build consensus on this point.

I recognise that to achieve the best outcome, we need to seek common ground with like minded Member States. Ireland will continue to seek to build alliances as the negotiations for the next CAP and its budgetary allocation progress and I will continue to fight for a strong CAP budget.

Agrifood Sector

Questions Nos. 483 and 484 answered with Question No. 478.

Ceisteanna (482)

James Browne

Ceist:

482. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to seek exemptions on EU state aid limits on member states in view of Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8308/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The agri-food sector is of critical importance to the Irish economy, and its regional spread means it underpins the socio-economic development of rural areas in particular. As such, Brexit has the potential to have a very significant impact on farmers and on the agri-food sector throughout Ireland.

I and my officials have been working very hard for quite some time to sensitise other Member States and the European Commission to the potentially very severe impacts of Brexit on the Irish agri-food and fisheries sectors, and to the likelihood of specific supports being required in order to deal with these impacts. The institutions of the European Union are very well aware of the likelihood of a significant impact of a disorderly Brexit on Ireland’s economy because this has been part of the discussion from the beginning, and indeed this is explicitly recognised in the Commission’s own communication on contingency planning.

Most recently, I held a bilateral meeting with Commissioner Hogan to discuss the potential impact of a disorderly Brexit on the Irish agri-food and fisheries sectors. We discussed the unique exposure of these sectors to the threat of a disorderly Brexit, and the challenges that it could present. I stressed the need to be ready to deploy a range of measures to mitigate the potential impacts on farmers and processors, including through traditional market supports and exceptional aid under the CAP's Single Common Market Organisation regulation, as well as increased flexibility under State Aid regulations, which has already been the subject of discussions with the Commission. Commissioner Hogan reiterated the EU’s readiness to respond and support Ireland, and we will remain in contact on these issues as the situation evolves.

As regards state aid limits, my Department operates the State aid rules and regulations governing the agriculture sector, where the state aid limits under the agriculture de minimis regulation are currently set at €15,000 per undertaking over a rolling three year period.

With regard to increases or exemptions to state aid limits, this is a matter for the Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation, who are the competent authority for the implementation of the general State aid rules and regulations in Ireland.

Questions Nos. 483 and 484 answered with Question No. 478.