Medicinal Products Reimbursement

Ceisteanna (136)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

136. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the weighting percentages to be used as part of the upcoming HSE FreeStyle Libre review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39151/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Under the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013, the HSE has statutory responsibility for the administration of the community drug schemes; therefore, the matter has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

General Practitioner Services

Ceisteanna (137)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

137. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Health in he will consider introducing a lo-call number for out-of-hours doctor services rather than the existing 1890 number due to the cost to those using the service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39173/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I understand the Deputy's question as referring to the use by out-of-hour GP co-operatives of local landline numbers rather than potentially more expensive to use Lo-Call numbers such as 1890 numbers.

Lo-Call numbers were introduced before there was major competition in the telephone market in Ireland. Initially a call to a 1890 number would have cost the same as calling a local landline number. Now calls to 1890 numbers can vary widely – from 4c per minute to 34c per minute on some mobiles.

Although part funded by the HSE, out-of-hours co-operatives are private entities, and as such it is a matter for each co-operative to determine whether to use a local landline number or a Lo-Call number. The majority of out-of-hours co-operatives use a Lo-Call number and an alternative local landline number.

Medical Card Reviews

Ceisteanna (138)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

138. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Health the number of medical cards reviewed in County Mayo in 2019, in tabular form; and the number refused on review. [39174/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for attention and direct reply to the Deputy

General Practitioner Services

Ceisteanna (139)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

139. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Health if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding doctors' charges. [39175/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Under the terms of the current GMS contract, GPs are required to provide eligible patients with ''all proper and necessary treatment of a kind usually undertaken by a general practitioner and not requiring special skill or experience of a degree or kind which general practitioners cannot reasonably be expected to possess."

The GMS contract stipulates that fees for medical and GP visit card holders are not paid to GPs in respect of certain medical certificates which may be required, for example, "under the Social Welfare Acts or for the purposes of insurance or assurance policies or for the issue of driving licences".

Any fees charged by GPs for services provided outside the terms of the GMS contract are a matter of private contract between the GP and their patients.

There are no plans at present to include the completion of forms required for driving licence applications as a service to be provided to GMS patients under the GMS or GP Visit Card scheme.

Health Services Staff Data

Ceisteanna (140)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

140. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Health the number of paediatric consultants employed by the HSE who specialise in the treatment of patients with ME; his plans to include ME on the long-term illness scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39182/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I wish to inform the Deputy that the Long Term Illness Scheme (LTI) was established under Section 59(3) of the Health Act 1970 (as amended). The conditions covered by the LTI are: acute leukaemia; mental handicap; cerebral palsy; mental illness (in a person under 16); cystic fibrosis; multiple sclerosis; diabetes insipidus; muscular dystrophies; diabetes mellitus; parkinsonism; epilepsy; phenylketonuria; haemophilia; spina bifida; hydrocephalus; and conditions arising from the use of thalidomide.

Under the scheme, patients receive drugs, medicines, and medical and surgical appliances directly related to the treatment of their illness, free of charge.

There are no plans to extend the list of conditions covered by the scheme at this time. However, I wish to inform the Deputy that the LTI scheme will be included as part of a review of the basis for existing hospital and medication charges, to be carried out under commitments given in the Sláintecare Implementation Strategy.

In relation to the number of paediatric consultants employed by the HSE that specialise in the treatment of patients with ME, I have asked the HSE to reply directly to the Deputy in this instance.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme Administration

Ceisteanna (141)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

141. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the slowdown in the number of approved fair deal funding packages being released by the HSE Dublin north nursing home support scheme office and that the rate of release has dropped from ten approved packages being released per week to 3 to 4 approved packages being released per week; his views on whether this is a deliberate policy choice being taken to save money or for another reason; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39184/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme, commonly referred to as Fair Deal, is a system of financial support for people who require long-term residential care. Participants contribute to the cost of their care according to their means while the State pays the balance of the cost.

As outlined in the HSE's National Service Plan for 2019, the NHSS is expected to support 23,042 people in 2019. The NHSS budget for 2019 is €985.8m which is an increase of €24.3m over its 2018 budget.

Over the last two years, an additional €45 million has been provided to NHSS budget for the continued provision of services in line with pricing and demand. As part of normal governance and performance management arrangements The Department and the HSE maintain regular service area engagements, which also form part of ongoing collaborative work on issues relating to older persons policy and service delivery.

The HSE have noted that the number of residents in nursing homes whom are supported by the NHSS to be ahead of forecast for the year to date. The latest available performance reports indicate that there are 23,236 people supported in the Scheme at the end of July this year. This is significantly more people than forecast and this creates a challenge. The HSE has also advised that the cost of care continues to rise and the average weekly cost per bed is higher in 2019 than anticipated.

Having regard to the available budget and the demand for support, the HSE releases funding in a managed way to ensure that the operation of the NHSS remains within the budgetary allocation. The HSE cannot legally fund clients beyond the determined funding allocation, and the appropriate mechanism relating to funding allocations is through the estimates and budgetary process. To manage the available funds throughout the year, a national placement list for the release of funding is operated by the HSE, to enable it to operate within budget. Funding issues to applicants in chronological order, to ensure equity nationally. Approved applicants are placed on the national placement list in order of their approval date and funding is released to applicants in order of their place on this list. The length of time spent on the placement list depends on the number of applicants currently receiving financial support and the number of new applications. Where demand is higher, the time spent on the waiting list may increase having regard for the prudent management of the Scheme's budget.

The HSE has put in place arrangements that a monthly analysis of performance of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme continues to ensure that the maximum number of new entrants are approved with the shortest possible waiting times while remaining on track to deliver a balanced budgetary position by year end. In the context of planning for the winter months, the HSE released a significant number of funding approvals this month bringing the waiting time for the release of funding back to 3 to 4 weeks.

Cross-Border Health Services Provision

Ceisteanna (142)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

142. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Health if the cross-Border health initiative will continue in the event of a deal or no-deal Brexit; if an agreement has been signed off in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39196/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The HSE operates the EU Cross Border Directive (CBD) in Ireland. Patients in Ireland can seek to be referred to another EU/EEA member state, including Northern Ireland, for medical treatment that is available in the public health service in Ireland. The patient may access the overseas service in either the public or private health sector of the EU/EEA member state they choose to receive the service in. The patient pays for the treatment and claims reimbursement from the HSE at the cost of that treatment in Ireland or the cost of it abroad, whichever is the lesser.

It is important to emphasise that at present there are no changes to patient care in the UK and Northern Ireland under the CBD, as the UK continues to be a full member of the EU. Indeed, until the UK formally withdraws from the European Union, it remains a full Member with all its existing rights and obligations.

Nevertheless, as part of a whole of Government response to Brexit, my Department is working to ensure a comprehensive and coordinated set of preparations to ensure continuity of health services post-Brexit. This includes the enactment of the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Act 2019. This legislation contains provisions which, if required, will allow me to make Orders and Regulations to enable necessary healthcare arrangements, including analogous CBD arrangements, to be maintained between Ireland and the UK in a no-deal scenario.

Rare Diseases Strategy

Ceisteanna (143)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

143. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health the number of sittings the rare diseases technology review committee has held since its establishment in tabular form; the dates of all future meetings scheduled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39197/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

In line with the recommendations of the National Rare Diseases Plan 2014-2018, the HSE established a Rare Diseases Technology Review Committee (RDTRC) in 2018. The Committee considers Orphan Medicinal Products that are referred to it from the HSE Drugs Group, particularly where there are issues relating to access to drugs for rare diseases.

The RDTRC is responsible for:

- reviewing proposals received from industry or expert groups in Ireland for funding of new products for rare diseases or expanded indications for existing products for rare diseases; and

- providing contributions to the development of clinical guidelines for relevant Orphan Medicinal Products (OMPs) and supporting the implementation of guidelines in conjunction with the National Drugs Management Programme Office where applicable.

The Committee’s recommendations for reimbursement of OMPs are not intended to replace any part of the existing medicines appraisal or reimbursement process but rather to complement it.

Since the establishment of the RDTRC, it has held five face-to face meetings:

Date

Number of meetings

15 October 2018

1

31 October 2018

2

8 November 2018

1

26 March 2019

1

Total

5

As part of their work programme the RDTRC have considered a number of medicines to date including:

- Sapropterin (Kuvan) for the treatment of Phenylketonuria: this drug was approved for reimbursement following the development of prescribing guidance by the RDTRC;

- Nusinersen (Spinraza) for the treatment of Spinal Muscular Atrophy: this drug was approved for reimbursement following referral to the RDTRC for the development of prescribing guidance;

- Sebelipase alfa (Kanuma) for the treatment of Lysosomal acid lipase deficiency;

- Teduglutide (Revestive) for the treatment of patients aged 1 year and above with short bowel syndrome.

Future meetings will be scheduled as referrals are made to the Rare Disease Technology Review Committee by the HSE Drugs Group.

Rare Diseases Strategy

Ceisteanna (144)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

144. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health if he plans to review the performance of the rare diseases technology review committee; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39198/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

In line with the recommendations of the National Rare Diseases Plan 2014-2018, the HSE established the Rare Diseases Technology Review Committee (RDTRC) in 2018. The Committee provides additional support for the HSE in its decisions around the reimbursement of drugs for rare diseases. The RDTRC is responsible for:

- reviewing proposals received from industry or expert groups in Ireland for funding of new products for rare diseases or expanded indications for existing products for rare diseases; and

- providing contributions to the development of clinical guidelines for relevant Orphan Medicinal Products (OMPs) and supporting the implementation of guidelines in conjunction with the National Drugs Management Programme Office where applicable.

The Committee’s recommendations for reimbursement of OMPs are not intended to replace any part of the existing medicines appraisal or reimbursement process but rather to complement it.

I am satisfied with the work which has been undertaken by the RDTRC to date and I do not propose any review of the RDTRC’s performance at this time.

As part of their work programme the RDTRC have considered a number of medicines to date including:

- Sapropterin (Kuvan) for the treatment of Phenylketonuria: this drug was approved for reimbursement following the development of prescribing guidance by the RDTRC;

- Nusinersen (Spinraza) for the treatment of Spinal Muscular Atrophy: this drug was approved for reimbursement following referral to the RDTRC for the development of prescribing guidance;

- Sebelipase alfa (Kanuma) for the treatment of Lysosomal acid lipase deficiency;

- Teduglutide (Revestive®) for the treatment of patients aged 1 year and above with short bowel syndrome.

In addition, the RDTRC has also been involved in processing applications for access to Nusinersen (Spinraza).

Vaccination Programme

Ceisteanna (145)

David Cullinane

Ceist:

145. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health if the HPV vaccination is available to boys in second and third year of secondary school; if they can be vaccinated through their general practitioners if they are medical card holders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39200/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) made a recommendation that the HPV vaccine should be given to boys. On foot of NIAC’s recommendation, my Department asked the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) to undertake a health technology assessment (HTA) to establish the clinical and cost-effectiveness of extending the current immunisation programme, which offers HPV vaccination to all girls in their first year of second level education (generally 12 to 13 year olds), to a programme that also offers the vaccination to boys in their first year of secondary school.

HIQA completed the HTA in December 2018, recommending that the HPV immunisation programme be extended to include boys. A policy decision was made to extend the HPV immunisation programme to include boys starting in September 2019 with the introduction of a 9-valent HPV vaccine. However, the HIQA report published in December 2018 did not recommend an HPV catch-up programme for older boys for several reasons:

- Vaccinating boys in the first year of secondary school provides the best possible protection against HPV infection;

- Boys are already benefitting from the indirect herd protection provided by the girls' HPV vaccination programme which started in 2010.

The ages at which vaccines are recommended in the immunisation schedule are chosen by NIAC in order to give each child the best possible protection against vaccine preventable diseases. As the HPV vaccine is preventative it is intended to be administered, if possible, before a person becomes sexually active, that is, before a person is first exposed to HPV infection. Therefore, the gender neutral HPV vaccination programme targets all girls and boys in first year of secondary school to provide maximum coverage. All vaccines administered through the School Immunisation Programme are provided free of charge.

Extending the HPV vaccine to boys will also provide direct protection to boys against HPV-related disease. It also provides indirect herd protection to girls who have not been vaccinated. Another important factor includes the additional protection provided by a gender neutral programme to vulnerable groups (for example, men who have sex with men) and the potential to improve the resilience of the immunisation programme to fluctuations in vaccine uptake and to the movement of individuals into and out of the country.

For older children who did not receive the vaccine as part of the School Immunisation Programme the HPV vaccine can only be obtained privately from a GP. If your child is 15 years of age or older they will require three doses of the HPV vaccine in order to be fully protected. Those who have a medical card are eligible to have the vaccine administered free of charge by their GP. However, the cost of purchasing the vaccine privately is not covered by the medical card.

My Department will continue to be guided by NIAC's recommendations on any emerging evidence on this issue in the future.

General Practitioner Services

Ceisteanna (146)

David Cullinane

Ceist:

146. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health if the recruitment process has commenced for a new general practitioner for Cappoquin Health Centre, County Waterford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39201/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As this question relates to service matters, I have arranged for it to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Mental Health Services Funding

Ceisteanna (147)

James Browne

Ceist:

147. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Health when mental health development funding for 2019 was released to the HSE; the breakdown on the allocation of this funding within the HSE; if part of this funding has been allocated to areas outside of mental health; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39203/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Budget 2019 made allowance for an additional €55 million for Mental Health Services to build on existing services. This is made up of the €20m continuing cost in 2019 of developments initiated in 2018, combined with €35m for further new developments. Since 2012, the Mental Health HSE Budget has been increased by almost 40% to nearly €1 billion.

To date, the HSE has drawn down €30 million of the foregoing funding, and an application for a further €13 million is currently being processed. None of this funding has been allocated to areas outside mental health.

I am referring the remainder of your question, regarding the breakdown of the allocation, to the Health Service Executive to respond to you directly as it is a service matter.

Nursing Staff Contracts

Ceisteanna (148, 149)

Stephen Donnelly

Ceist:

148. Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Health if the independent verification process to determine the level of savings generated by productivity measures to offset the cost of the nurses’ pay deal in February 2019 which was proposed in the Labour Court agreement that led to a resolution of the strike has been put in place; if so, the terms of reference and details of those who will serve on it; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39211/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Stephen Donnelly

Ceist:

149. Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Health if, in dealing with the recent nurses’ pay dispute, verified savings and productivity do not materialise by the end of 2019 the initiatives set out under the agreement will be paused in keeping with the recommendation of the Labour Court; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39212/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 148 and 149 together.

A core element of improved productivity and potential savings to be achieved is the new enhanced nurse/midwife role. In that context, the HSE has issued a circular opening the Enhanced Practice role to eligible applicants on 23rd August 2019.

It is important to allow time for eligible applicants to consider the circular and for the new enhanced practice roles to become established and for it to start to have the intended positive impact on the health services.

The establishment of an independent verification mechanism as set out in the Labour Court recommendation will be the subject of discussions between the parties to the agreement.

Health Service Management are committed to the full implementation this Labour Court recommendation and the implementation of all aspects of the agreement will be closely monitored through an agreed HSE Implementation Plan.

HSE Properties

Ceisteanna (150)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

150. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health the future plans for a HSE property (details supplied) in County Dublin; if the property is no longer in use by the HSE; if he will consider transferring the property to the local authority for other uses such as housing, community or the arts; the steps he will take to secure the property to prevent further vandalism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39265/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Health Service Executive (HSE) is responsible for the management of the public healthcare property estate. Details of properties which have been vacated or are due to be vacated are captured as part of the annual service planning strategy. These properties are reviewed for future use and suitability. They may be refurbished immediately, retained for future use or sold if deemed surplus to requirements.

The HSE operates a protocol for the disposal of surplus property assets, in accordance with Government Policy for Disposal of Surplus Property. This protocol sets out three options:

1. Transfer to another public body or State agency;

2. Open market sale, subject to favourable market conditions;

3. Other uses such as community / voluntary use will be considered only if points 1 and 2 above do not materialise.

Any proposals for the disposal of surplus property assets must be considered in the context of the capital funding available to Health and the Government's Reform Plan relating to the State's property asset use and management. In this context, the HSE is required to obtain value for money when disposing of surplus property assets. These proceeds will be re-invested in delivering much needed health care infrastructure.

I have asked the HSE to respond directly to you in relation to the current status of the particular property raised in your question.

Aquaculture Licences

Ceisteanna (151)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

151. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his attention has been drawn to the disappointment expressed by a company (details supplied) on receipt of the aquaculture and foreshore licences issued to it by his Department; if negotiations will be opened with the company; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39139/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department considers all applications for aquaculture licences in accordance with the provisions of the 1997 Fisheries (Amendment) Act, the 1933 Foreshore Act and applicable national and EU legislation. The licensing process involves consultation with a wide range of scientific and technical advisers as well as various Statutory Consultees. The legislation also provides for a period of public consultation.

Ministerial decisions have been made in respect of a number of Aquaculture licence applications for Wexford Harbour.

Appeals against Ministerial decisions in respect of Aquaculture Licence applications are considered by the Aquaculture Licences Appeals Board (ALAB) which is an independent body established by Statute for that purpose. Full details of the appeals process can be obtained at: http://www.alab.ie/appealsprocess/.

As appeals against these decisions may currently be submitted to ALAB and, in view of the independent status of ALAB, it would not be appropriate for me to comment further on the matter at this stage.

Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (152)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

152. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when an ANC payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39157/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The person named submitted a 2019 Basic Payment/Areas of Natural Constraint Schemes application on the 10th April 2019. EU Regulations governing the administration of these schemes require that full and comprehensive administrative checks, including in some cases, remote sensing (i.e. satellite) inspections, be completed before any payments issue.

The application of the person named was selected for a Remote Sensing eligibility inspection. This inspection is currently being processed with the intention of issuing any payments due as soon as possible. In the event that any queries arise, officials in my Department will be in contact with the person named.

Common Agricultural Policy Negotiations

Ceisteanna (153)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

153. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a payment for maintaining hedgerows will be included in the next round of CAP negotiations. [39178/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department recognises the importance of hedgerows and woodland habitats and their roles in biodiversity, agricultural management and potential carbon sequestration.

Hedgerows are an important feature of the Irish landscape with a network estimated in excess of 300,000km, providing multiple benefits such as: a distinctive character, important for wildlife, a barrier and shelter for livestock, as well as acting as important carbon stores. As such, they are recognised as valuable landscape features under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and thus are eligible for BPS payments. It is also recognised that such features must be appropriately managed and maintained by appropriate trimming to keep them in optimum condition, both as field boundary features and to help maintain the optimum structure and thickness to encourage bird nesting etc., and best practice prevails where this is done as part of an appropriate cutting rotation.

Their importance is further recognised through the inclusion of a number of hedgerow-specific actions within the GLAS (Agri-environment Scheme under pillar II). In addition, farmers in GLAS can select the action of coppicing of hedges and/or laying of hedges which seek to improve the biodiversity value of escaped or abandoned hedges.

The restriction on cutting hedgerows set out in Section 40 of the Wildlife Act 1976 as amended by the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000 and the Heritage Act 2018 falls under the remit of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

As regards the new regulations for the CAP 2021-27 which were launched in June 2018 by Commissioner Hogan, the proposals, as drafted, involve significant changes, including in relation to governance, the distribution of direct payments among farmers and the increasing environmental conditionality attaching to such payments.

Negotiations on the draft proposals are continuing at EU level. While significant progress has been made to date, decisions on key issues have yet to be agreed at EU level.

Grant Aid

Ceisteanna (154)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

154. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if there are grants or funding available to suckler and sheep farmers who are struggling to pay bills. [39216/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The beef and sheep sectors are important elements of the Irish economy and I am conscious of the importance that these key sectors plays in rural Ireland.

I am keenly aware that the past year has been very challenging for beef farmers, following a difficult year for farm incomes in 2018 due to weather conditions. There has been a prolonged and exceptional period of depressed prices since autumn 2018, with the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the outcome of Brexit, among other factors, contributing to this market disturbance.

The Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM), which recently closed for applications, will provide temporary exceptional adjustment aid to farmers in the beef sector in Ireland subject to the conditions set out in EU Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/1132. BEAM is funded by a combination of EU aid and Exchequer support, provided in light of the difficult circumstances that Irish beef farmers have been facing as a result of the market volatility and uncertainty. Over 34,500 farmers had applied for BEAM at its closing date of 20 September, representing potential commitments of almost €78 million.

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 RDP period.

This year, I introduced the exchequer-funded Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP), a €20 million scheme which will provide suckler farmers with valuable data on the weaning efficiency of their animals.

The Deputy will also be aware that my Department has rolled out a range of schemes as part of the €4 billion Rural Development Programme (RDP), 2014 - 2020. In addition to the BDGP, other supports which are available for beef farmers under Pillar II of the CAP include GLAS, ANCs and Knowledge Transfer Groups. Sheep and suckler farmers also benefit from the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and Greening payments under CAP Pillar I.

In recognising the major challenges faced by the farming sector and the important role that various schemes operated by my Department play in underpinning the viability of many farms, last month I secured agreement from the European Commission that will allow for a higher rate of advance payments under the 2019 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and a number of Rural Development Schemes.

Additionally, I have secured a funding increase to the Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) Scheme which brings the total budget this year to €250m. On foot of changes to EU Regulations, payments under the ANC Scheme will be made in two instalments this year. The initial instalment of 85% worth €168.5m was paid to almost 79,000 farmers last week, with the balancing payments of 15% commencing in early December. These supports provide a major injection of funds to the suckler and sheep sector at an important time.

As regards the sheep sector, I introduced the Sheep Welfare Scheme in December 2016 in order to provide support for sheep farmers in improving welfare standards in the national sheep flock. Participating farmers are paid €10 per eligible ewe, and some €36m issued to farmers in respect of the first two years of the Scheme.

In addition to supports which are available for sheep farmers under the Rural Development Programme, including GLAS, ANCs and Knowledge Transfer Groups, sheep farmers also benefit from the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and Greening payments under CAP Pillar I.

I have also made available financial support to sheep farmers for compliance with new sheep EID rules of €100 per farmer and I would like to remind farmers that the closing date for the Sheep EID Tag Subsidy Scheme is 30 September 2019.

The pursuit and development of new markets for Irish agri-food exports is a constant and central component of the strategic development of the industry, as evidenced by its placement at the centre of Food Wise 2025, the industry’s strategy for development. Food Wise 2025 prioritises the potential for growth in new and emerging markets, particularly in Asia, Africa, the Americas and the Gulf region.

Following my visit to Japan in June, the Japanese market was opened for Irish sheepmeat and the Deputy will be aware of the recent audit visit by Chinese officials to a number of sheep slaughtering plants as part of the on-going efforts to secure access to the Chinese market for Irish sheepmeat.

I am strongly of the view that the current range of supports available to farmers, together with ensuring market access to as many markets as possible, are appropriate supports for the continued development of the sector.

I will continue to argue for as strong a CAP budget as possible, post-2020. In particular, I am committed to ensuring that beef and sheep farmers continue to receive strong support in the next CAP. My view is that such payments should support and encourage farmers to make the best decisions possible to improve the economic and environmental efficiency, of their farming system.

Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme

Ceisteanna (155)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

155. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if refusal to award partnership status and benefits under the TAMS and DES schemes to a person (details supplied) will be reviewed with a view to reappraisal and approval in view of the extent to which the proposal has been strengthened; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39236/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The person named made an application under the Dairy Equipment Scheme 05 July 2019 and this application has now been transfered to the Registered Farm Partnership following set up with the Department's Registered Farm Partnership Section.

TAMS II is a demand-led scheme and, due to the high increase in application numbers, the ranking and selection system is being applied with a cut off mark of 39.57 in Tranche 14 for Dairy Equipment. The application from the person named received a mark of 31.13 and will automatically rollover for consideration into Tranche 15.

The applicant also has the right to withdraw this application and submit a revised version for consideration if they so wish.