I propose to take Questions Nos. 2136 to 2139, inclusive, together.
I am keenly aware that the past few months have been very difficult for beef farmers in particular, following a difficult year for farm incomes in 2018 due to adverse weather conditions. There has been a prolonged and exceptional period of depressed prices since last autumn, with the on-going uncertainty surrounding the outcome of Brexit, among other factors, contributing to this market disturbance.
The recent announcement by Commissioner Hogan of EU exceptional aid for the Irish beef sector is very welcome in this context. I have been making the case for some time for an exceptional aid package from the EU Commission for Irish beef farmers, at EU Council of Agriculture Minister meetings, and in direct consultation with the Commission. The announcement by the Commissioner is another example of the importance of EU solidarity when it comes to facing significant economic challenges.
This exceptional aid provision will be given effect through a Commission Implementing Regulation. While Member States were invited to give an opinion on the draft Regulation through the Commission’s Common Market Organisation (CMO) Management Committee, the Regulation is within the Commission’s own legal competence, and was not for negotiation with Ireland or indeed other Member States, in terms of its content. The Regulation was published on 2 July 2019.
The draft proposal on the Measure as presented to stakeholders during the recent consultation process is available on my Department's website at: https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/media/migration/farmingschemesandpayments/beefexceptionalaidmeasure/190710EAMPresentationStakeholderConsultationCompressed110719.pdf.
Details of the measure must be submitted to the European Commission before 31 July 2019, and are also the subject of consultation with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. Full details, including terms and conditions, will be issued as soon as this process has concluded.