Forestry Data

Ceisteanna (181)

David Cullinane

Ceist:

181. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of Sitka spruce trees planted in each of the years 2007 to 2018, inclusive, by county in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42318/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department makes available on its website a substantial number of forestry-related statistics, which are updated monthly or annually as required. 

The number of hectares of conifers planted in the years requested is provided in the table at the link.  Generally, a count of trees planted is not made, but an average of 2,500 stems per hectare is standard for conifers.  This allows for failures, etc.  Proper management of the site ensures that trees are thinned at regular intervals throughout the rotation, before final harvesting.

Spruce Trees Planted

Grant Aid

Ceisteanna (182)

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

182. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if grant aid will be provided for low emission slurry spreaders and-or make them zero VAT rated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41730/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The Low Emission Slurry Spreading (LESS) Measure one of the suite of seven measures available under TAMS II and provides grants for Low Emission Slurry Spreading equipment.  

To date, 1,450 farmers have received €19.04m in grant assistance to purchase LESS equipment under the TAMS II scheme and a further 1,658 farmers have an outstanding approval to purchase equipment.  

Full details of all items grant aided under TAMS II are available on the Department's website.

Policy on VAT is matter for my colleague, the Minister for Finance.

Alternative Farm Enterprises

Ceisteanna (183)

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

183. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will provide incentives for the planting of alternative crops for the bio-economy to commence the process of adapting land use that will enable Ireland to meet its climate change targets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41731/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The Government’s policy position for the agriculture sector is an approach to carbon neutrality which does not compromise capacity for sustainable food production. There are three strands to my Department’s approach to carbon neutrality:

1. reducing agricultural emissions;

2. increasing carbon sequestration; and

3. displacing and substituting fossil fuel and energy intensive materials.

The All-of-Government Climate Action Plan to Tackle Climate Disruption sets a series of step-up measures and underpinning actions and proposed targets for all sectors including the agriculture, forestry and land use sector. One of these is to achieve 26.8 Mt CO2eq abatement through LULUCF actions, including the planting of 8,000 ha of forestry per annum. My Department is fully committed to mobilising the LULUCF credits as outlined in the ‘All of Government action plan for climate change’. To achieve these challenging targets, it will require immediate action through early adoption and high levels of take-up of the identified actions across our 139,000 plus family farms.

These credits provide a means to assist the agricultural sector contributing to Irelands ambition on climate action.

Forestry provides resources for the bioenergy supply chain, the wider bio-economy and timber products that can act as a less carbon-intensive substitute of other materials in construction and other related sectors as well as through the displacement of fossil fuels. Ireland has a 16% target for renewable energy by 2020 and the production of indigenous biomass has a crucial role to play in helping us meet this renewable energy target. My Department has a key role to play in the supply of biomass materials for the renewable energy sector and continues to make considerable investment to support indigenous biomass supply through the afforestation programme.

The mid-term review of the Forestry Programme has seen substantial increases in the grants and premiums paid for growing trees suitable for fibre and biomass. The duration of the premium has also increased from 10 to 15 years. It is hoped that these measures will stimulate increased planting of crops such as eucalyptus and poplar which together with forest thinnings will provide increased material for energy.

My Department is considering all opportunities for further developments in the area of biomass in the context of the next Forestry Programme and the next CAP Strategic programme.

Beef Exports

Ceisteanna (184)

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

184. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the export markets that have different specifications from those set out in a document (details supplied) which restricts beef from particular holdings here being exported to such countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49186/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The document referred to by the Deputy is the World Organisation of Animal Health (OIE) Terrestrial Animal Health Code, specifically in relation to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE)  and the recommendations to manage health risks associated with the presence of the BSE agent in cattle.

Last year, Irish beef was exported to nearly 70 countries worldwide according to CSO trade statistics. Of these, a small number of importing markets mandate protective BSE-related restrictions which are more stringent than those recommended by the World Organisation of Animal Health (OIE).

The third country markets which currently specify more stringent conditions for Irish beef on this basis are Algeria, Barbados, China, Egypt, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore (bone-in beef) and Turkey. In 2019, Ireland exported beef to three of these markets - China, Saudi Arabia and Singapore.

My Department works continuously on expanding market access for Irish meat and meat products across a range of markets. In tandem, we continue to work to maintain access to existing markets as well as to simplify certification procedures and improve certification conditions in existing markets.

Our ultimate aim is to negotiate veterinary health conditions for the export of meat and meat products to third countries that do not place an unacceptably high burden on Irish meat exporters. However, this is a lengthy, technically detailed process and is subject to agreement with the importing country. Where there are stringent technical demands for the export of meat to a Third Country, my Department seeks to continue negotiations with such countries to remove or reduce the impact of the requirement.

Animal Disease Controls

Ceisteanna (185, 186)

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

185. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the information retained by his Department on historical and recent BSE cases here relating to the animal, the herdowner and-or the holding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49187/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

186. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the length of time his Department retains information on historical BSE cases; the persons or bodies this information is shared with; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49188/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 185 and 186 together.

Details of all positive BSE cases since 1989 are retained in my Department.  The cases contain important epidemiological information and assist in assessing future BSE and TSE risk.

The European database on BSE cases is managed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), who was delegated that responsibility by the European Commission.  There is a mandatory requirement to report all positive cases to the EFSA.  Annual returns and reports of positive cases are also made to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

Animal Diseases

Ceisteanna (187)

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

187. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a holding on which an animal with BSE was discovered poses a higher risk to the food chain than a holding that never had a case of BSE; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49189/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

As part of the regulatory controls for food safety, there is a State veterinary presence in every meat plant and this Vet conducts an ante-mortem inspection on every animal presented for slaughter. In addition, and on a precautionary basis, all specified risk material must be removed from all animals slaughtered and this is also verified by the State veterinarian present in the plant.

No evidence has been found to show that a holding on which an animal with BSE was discovered in the past poses a higher risk to the food chain than a holding that never had a case of BSE.

Beef Exports

Ceisteanna (188)

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

188. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the World Organisation for Animal Health considers that beef from an animal which has come from a holding on which a historical case of BSE was confirmed should be treated differently when being exported; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49190/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

As part of the regulatory controls for food safety, there is a State veterinary presence in every meat plant and this veterinarian conducts an ante-mortem inspection on every animal presented for slaughter. In addition, and on a precautionary basis, all specified risk material must be removed from all animals slaughtered and this is also verified by the State veterinarian present in the plant.

No evidence has been found to show that a holding on which an animal with BSE was discovered in the past poses a higher risk to the food chain than a holding that never had a case of BSE.

However, the conditions applied by third countries importing beef from Ireland are determined by control authorities in these countries.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (189)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

189. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of agency staff hired and-or engaged by his Department in the past five years to date; the cost per year of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49289/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department employs staff across a broad range of skill sets including Administrative, Veterinary Inspectors, Forest and Agricultural Inspectors, Technical Agricultural Officers, Engineers and Laboratory Staff to meet its business needs.

Recruitment campaigns take place periodically in partnership with the Public Appointments Service (PAS) and by internal competitions for staff within my Department.  

I can confirm that my Department does not engage agency staff to meet its business needs.  

Agriculture Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (190)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

190. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason a farmer (details supplied) in County Kerry who sold his animals at the mart to a dealer or agent will not receive payment under the beef exceptional aid measure for animals he reared and fattened; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49334/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The objective of the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) is to 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.  Applications for BEAM were accepted from  19th August to 20th September 2019.

An application was received from the person named on the 20th August 2019 and a scheme acceptance letter issued on the 11th October 2019 which detailed 30 animals that had been slaughtered in the relevant period, and were eligible for payment under the scheme. 

This letter also informed the person named of their right to have this data reviewed. Such a request was received on the 1st of November 2019 accompanied by a list of tag numbers of animals that the person named believed should be eligible for payment.

The Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) of the scheme state that, where an animal is presented for slaughter within 30 days of purchase by an agent or dealer as defined in the T&Cs, payment may issue in respect of the previous herdowner provided they are otherwise eligible and a participant in the scheme. All of the animals that relate to the tag numbers provided, and their associated movements, were investigated by staff from my Department who established that none of them met the criteria required for the payment to revert to a previous herdowner

A letter confirming the original decision issued to the person named on the 19th of November 2019.  This letter also informed the person named of their right to appeal this outcome to the Agriculture Appeals Office.

Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme

Ceisteanna (191)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

191. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if an application by a person (details supplied) for TAMS 11 will be included in respect of tranche 14 of TAMS 11; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49353/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The person named submitted an application for grant-aid under the Dairy Equipment Scheme.   This application has now passed all the administrative checks, and the ranking & selection process. The application is subject to a further final technical examination and, if successful, approval will issue to the person named in due course.

Organic Farming Scheme

Ceisteanna (192)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

192. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the statistics relating to organic REPS (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49391/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The Organic Farming Scheme is one of the most successful schemes under our current Rural Development Programme.  A budget of €56m was allocated to fund the Scheme opened during the period 2014 to 2020 which was the largest allocation ever to an Organics support scheme.

The Scheme has more than achieved its targets in terms of new land converted and the maintenance of organic land. The area of land under organic production has expanded dramatically as a direct result of my Department's investment. Latest figures indicate that there are now some 72,000 hectares under organic production, an increase of nearly 50% on the position at the start of the Programme in 2014.

As a further vote of confidence in the organics sector by this Government, my colleague Minister Doyle established an Organics Strategy Group last year comprising relevant stakeholders and state bodies. Part of the remit of the Strategy Group was to consider the case for a possible re-opening of the Organic Farming Scheme. They recommended that it should be re-opened but on a targeted basis. The sectors targeted were areas for which there is a clear market demand, and which are critical to the further development of the Organic Sector, namely horticulture, cereals and dairy.  This recommendation acknowledged that the budget was very limited given the success of the current scheme and the overall spending within the RDP.

The Scheme was opened for applications up to the 19 December 2018 and a total of 225 applications were received. A total of 58 applications were either withdrawn or were deemed ineligible.  Following the ranking and selection process, one applicant withdrew, 55 were successful and 111 farmers received letters informing them that they had been unsuccessful.  All unsuccessful applicants were given a right of appeal to the Organic Unit of my Department. It should be noted that in 95% of the unsuccessful applications, the predominant enterprises were not from the targeted sectors identified when the Scheme was launched.

It is important to note that this was a targeted re-opening and that I fully expect that there will be a new Organics Scheme under the next CAP. I would encourage all stakeholders to make their views known on the shape of this future scheme as part of the wider CAP consultation process.

Beef Industry

Ceisteanna (193, 195)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

193. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he is taking to get the beef task force up and running; when the first meeting will take place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49392/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

195. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when the outcome of the tender process for the three independent studies to be conducted as a result of the beef agreement reached in September 2019 will be announced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49394/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 193 and 195 together.

As the Deputy will be aware, the inaugural Beef Taskforce meeting scheduled for 14th October was prevented from proceeding. However, since then the independent chair and my Department continue to engage proactively with Taskforce members with a view to both progressing the implementation of the provisions of the agreement.

My Department and its agencies continue to progress the commitments which they signed up to under the Agreement. The full text of the Agreement between beef sector stakeholders, along with an update on the progress made on the action points to date, is available on my Department's website: https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/farmingsectors/beef/beeftaskforce/.

An immediate increase in a range of bonuses was announced as part of the 15 September Agreement. It has been confirmed to my Department that this bonus system is now in place.

Initiatives in the Agreement aimed at improving information along the supply chain included the commissioning of the following reports: an independent review of market and customer requirements; an independent examination of the price composition of the total value of the animal along the supply chain; and a summary of competition law issues as relevant to the Irish beef sector. My Department has issued the Request for Tender for these reports, with a deadline for receipt of Tender Responses of 12 noon on Thursday 5th December. This will enable award of the tender before the end of 2019.

In relation to market transparency initiatives, my Department:

- has published an expert report on mechanical carcase classification review;

- has introduced an appeals system for manual grading; and

- has initiated a consultation process on the transposition of the Unfair Trading Practices (UTP) Directive, with a deadline for submission of 13 December.

Bord Bia has developed a beef market price index model based on 3 components: cattle price index, beef market price index (retail and wholesale) and an offal price indicator. This is now available on the Bord Bia website: https://www.bordbia.ie/farmers-growers/farmers/prices-markets/beef-market-tracking/.

Teagasc is significantly advanced in the first stage of the scientific review of the Quality Payment Grid(QPS).

My Department is also proactively engaging with several potential beef Producer Organisations, which have to potential to strengthen the bargaining power of beef farmers in the supply chain. Two beef producer organisations have been formally recognised by my Department in recent months.

I established the Beef Market Taskforce to provide the leadership to develop a sustainable pathway for the future of the beef sector in terms of economic, environmental and social sustainability. As I have previously stated, it is in the interests of everyone involved in the beef sector that the work of the Taskforce goes ahead. I hope that all parties will agree to come together around the table as soon as possible in order to progress this important work.

Beef Imports

Question No. 195 answered with Question No. 193.

Ceisteanna (194)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

194. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the quantities of chilled and frozen beef imported from Poland in 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49393/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

According to Central Statistic Office (CSO) figures, I can confirm that from January to December 2018, Ireland imported 1,251 tonnes of fresh/chilled and frozen beef to the value of €4.6 million from Poland. 

From January to September 2019, we imported 777 tonnes of fresh/chilled and frozen beef to the value of €3 million from Poland.

Question No. 195 answered with Question No. 193.

Food Promotion

Ceisteanna (196)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

196. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps being taken to counteract vegan propaganda which is particularly damaging to Ireland and its rural communities in view of the unique production and export capacity for beef here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49395/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Meat and Dairy Facts is a joint industry campaign to direct consumers towards science-based information about the nutritional benefits of meat and dairy, and the efforts that Irish farmers are taking to protect the environment and care for their animals. Its members include Bord Bia, Dairy Industry Ireland, the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association, the Irish Farmers Association, Meat Industry Ireland and the National Dairy Council.

I support this campaign to present factual information about the important role meat and dairy plays in our diet, and to demonstrate that Irish meat and dairy production meets the highest standards of food safety and quality, environmental sustainability and animal welfare.

Earlier this year I highlighted that Irish meat and dairy are critically important elements in a healthy, balanced diet, especially for children. I emphasised that Irish livestock farming, based on grazing in temperate grasslands, is among the most climate efficient in the world.  

Forestry Management

Ceisteanna (197)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

197. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the estimated area of peaty soils under the ownership of Coillte that has been converted to forestry; the estimated net carbon losses as a result of the practice; the remedial measures proposed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49426/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The management of the forest estate is a matter for, and the responsibility of, Coillte as a commercial State Body and the information requested is an operational matter for Coillte. I have referred the Deputy’s question to Coillte and have requested that a response should issue within 10 days.

Food Labelling

Ceisteanna (198)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

198. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which he remains satisfied regarding the reliability of labelling and traceability structures throughout the food industry with particular reference to imports from third countries; the average number of checks or tests carried out in 2018 and 2019; the way in which this compares with previous years; the number of cases detected which indicate a failure to meet the required standards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49445/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Food products placed on the marketplace are covered by a range of legislation designed to ensure that products supplied to consumers are of the highest safety standards.  My Department plays a part in the enforcement of this legislation along with other Government departments and State Agencies such as the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) and the Health Service Executive. The FSAI is the body responsible for enforcement of regulations governing traceability, labelling and provision of food information to customers.

Primary responsibility under EU law for the safety and traceability of food placed on the market lies with food business operators. The role of National Competent Agencies is to verify compliance with this requirement. This is done via a combination of inspecting establishments and auditing the food safety management systems which operators have in place. These controls are applied at different stages in the food supply chain. Regulation (EC) No. 178 of 2002 sets out the general principles and requirements of EU food law and stipulates that food business operators must, at all stages of production, processing and distribution within their business, ensure food law requirements are satisfied. In regard to traceability, the regulations require that food business operators have what is referred to as the ‘one step forward, one step backward’ traceability system. There are additional requirements for certain fishery and aquaculture products under the Control Regulation (Regulation 1224/2009 and Implementing Regulation 404/2011) from first sale to subsequent stages of production, processing and distribution up to retail.  

My Department has a permanent veterinary presence at all of its approved slaughter plants. Controls at plants only engaged in secondary processing are carried out at a frequency based on an annual risk assessment. An annual audit of imported products is carried out in each Department-approved plant, including checks on physical identity, labelling and documentary checks.

Extra veterinary checks are carried out on selected consignments of foods imported into DAFM-approved establishments from other EU Member States or from Third Countries outside the EU. These checks include, physical checks of product condition, checks of accompanying documentation and checks of labelling and health markings.

The import of products of animal origin from third countries is governed by a comprehensive and robust legislative framework laid down at EU level, controlled by Member States in the first instance, and audited by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Health and Food Safety (formally the FVO), to ensure compliance with all of the relevant food safety standards. The legislation imposes health and supervisory requirements designed to ensure that imported products meet standards equivalent to those required for production and trade between Member States. Border Inspection Posts are operated by my Department. Import control procedures on products of animal and fish origin are highly prescriptive and strictly audited by the Commission to ensure compliance. Inspection reports are published on the Directorate General for Health and Food Safety’s website.

I am satisfied that the controls and checks in place and enforced by my Department ensure that Irish consumers are protected and correctly informed when they purchase and consume food products. Checks for products of animal origin numbered 2,858 in 2018 and 2,898 to date in 2019. All consignments are documentary and identity checked and physical checks, including sampling of products, are carried out according to European regulations. 

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has service contracts in place with the official agencies performing official controls, to verify compliance with the extensive requirements of food labelling legislation, in these establishments.  The FSAI reports in detail on the number of inspections and checks carried out, and non-compliance findings.

Fishing Industry

Ceisteanna (199)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

199. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which fishing remains a viable option for fishing dependent families nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49446/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) provides the framework for the long term conservation and sustainability of fish stocks around our shores and is designed to ensure the long term sustainability of fishing in Ireland and throughout EU waters. The CFP specifically calls for the progressive restoration and maintenance of populations of fish stocks above biomass levels capable of producing Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY).  To achieve this, the FMSY exploitation rate shall be achieved for all stocks from January 1st 2020. This should ultimately lead to healthy fish stocks, higher quotas for both Irish and EU fishermen and lead to more sustainable fishing patterns.  

Scientific information on the state of the fisheries exploited by the Irish fleet is compiled by the Marine Institute and is published in the Stock Book each year. The most recent Stock Book, 2019, which was published last week, contains 74 stocks that are subject to the scientific advice of the Marine Institute. From the 74 stocks, 35 are assessed as being sustainably fished in 2019. This number has grown every year since 2013. This, in turn, leads to the number of stocks being over-fished declining from 22 in 2014 to 13 in 2019.  

The preparation for the 2019 December Fisheries Council is well underway.  At the December Council, quotas for 2020 will be negotiated on the basis of a proposal produced by the European Commission that is informed by the best available scientific advice. From the initial proposal, I am pleased that the scientific advice supports increases in a number of stocks of importance to Ireland such as Haddock, Monkfish and Megrims in the Celtic Sea.  This shows that the many years of intensive, industry-led conservation measures are paying off.  

Provided we can successfully navigate the potential difficulties arising from Brexit, in cooperation with our EU27 partners, I am confident that, through the CFP, we will be able to ensure the sustainability of our fish stocks and, in turn, the economic viability of our fishing fleet and fish processors, thereby supporting the families and communities that depend on a vibrant fishing industry.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Ceisteanna (200)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

200. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which he can encourage mitigation action in respect of greenhouse gases with the minimum impact on agriculture production; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49447/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The All-of Government Climate Action Plan to tackle climate breakdown sets out a target for emissions from the sector in 2030 of between 17.5 and 19 Mt CO2 eq. by achieving between 16.5 and 18.5 Mt CO2 eq. cumulative abatement over the period 2021 to 2030 for the agriculture sector. In addition, the sector will also deliver an additional 26.8 Mt CO2 eq. through better land use management such as afforestation and improved management of peaty grasslands. 

The plan identifies 34 actions for the sector that will contribute to our transition to a low carbon economy and society.  These include abatement measures, carbon sequestration measures and displacement of fossil fuels and reflect our three-pillar policy approach to achieving carbon neutrality without comprising sustainable food production.

The actions in this plan are informed by the recent Teagasc Marginal Cost Abatement Curve report (MACC) - An Analysis of Abatement Potential of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Irish Agriculture 2021-2030 as an identifiable suite of actions for delivery. These actions include both efficiency measures such as the Dairy EBI programme and technical measures such as changes in fertiliser type or low emissions slurry spreading as well as a series of forestry and bioeceonomy measures. Achieving our 2030 emissions reduction target will require early adoption and high levels of take-up of all measures across all our 139,000 farms.

My department has recently published a document entitled ‘Ag-Climatise’ – A Draft National Climate and Air Roadmap for the Agriculture Sector to 2030 and beyond for public consultation.  This main aim of this consultation document is to translate our overall sectoral ambitions into more detailed actions and targets for delivery over the coming years.

The roadmap will also take account of the outcomes of other recent public consultations on the National Air Pollution Control Programme, the Code of Good Practice to Reduce Ammonia Emissions, the 2019 Nitrates Derogation Review and the Sectoral Adaptation Plan for Agriculture Forestry and Seafood.

Cereal Sector

Ceisteanna (201)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

201. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which he remains satisfied regarding the future prospects for the cereal growing sector with a view to ensuring a reliable income for those involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49448/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The tillage sector is an integral component of our Agri-food industry, making a significant contribution to overall National agricultural output.  The Irish cereals sector plays a significant role in the supply of high quality grain to the feed industry, providing raw material for the food and drinks industry and is a key source of seed production.  

I acknowledge that cereal production has experienced difficult challenges in recent times particularly from poor climatic conditions, however my Department continues to provide significant supports to the sector.

The Tillage Capital Investment Scheme under TAMS II covering specific areas of investment for tillage farmers with in excess of €14.5 million distributed to over 860 farmers to date.

The continuation of the coupled EU Protein Aid Scheme for 2018 has resulted in over €2.84m being paid to 681 growers. This Scheme was available again in 2019 and I can confirm that this valuable support scheme will be available in 2020. This coupled payment is worth approx. €3m/annum to tillage farmers.

In further support for the sector, my Department continues to provide a high quality and valuable official crop seed certification scheme, as well as an extensive national crop variety evaluation programme, providing invaluable information to growers on the latest varieties available.

The agri-food sector continues to explore the development of novel markets for cereal products seeking to improve competitiveness and sustainability with Irish malting barley demand increasing with growth in demand for Irish distilled spirits such as whiskey.

Cereals are therefore a significant stakeholder in our agri-food industry from a supply/food safety and sustainability viewpoint and the continuance of an efficient and viable tillage sector in Ireland is vital.

I can assure the Deputy that I, and the Government, remain fully committed to this important sector which plays a key role in the development of the wider agri-food industry.

Poultry Industry

Ceisteanna (202)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

202. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which he expects the poultry sector to grow in the short, medium and long term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49449/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The value of Irish poultry exports in 2018 increased by 1% to over €280 million according to CSO trade data, with the United Kingdom accounting for some 78% of this figure in value terms.  Other EU markets now account for just under 10% of Irish exports, with France leading the way, followed closely by Finland and the Netherlands. Exports to third country markets amount to around 10% of export totals, with South Africa showing the biggest growth for Irish exporters, growing by 14% in 2018 to just under €30 million.

Irish production again hit record levels in 2018, with 98.6 million birds slaughtered in export-approved plants, an increase of 3.3% compared to 2017, with most of the increase evident in broiler and duck production. Irish poultry production is on course to exceed the 100 million mark in 2019.

The market access process can be lengthy one and is largely determined by the requirements of importing countries. My Department’s priorities in this regard are decided in consultation with stakeholders and opportunities for poultry meat exports to a number of third country markets, including Malaysia, South Korea and Indonesia are currently being pursued. Earlier this year, agreement was reached with the South African authorities on a revised veterinary health certificate for the export of poultry meat permitting the use of marinades/sauces of non-animal origin. The South African authorities also agreed a separate bilateral certificate for the export of butter-basted whole turkeys from Ireland.

While the outlook for the sector remains broadly positive, the sector continues to face challenges particularly the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit. In this context, the pursuit and development of new markets is an ongoing and central component of the strategic development of the agri-food sector, as evidenced by the market development theme of Food Wise 2025. As in other meat sectors, global trade conditions will be crucial in determining the outlook for the Irish poultry sector over the medium to longer term.

Bovine Disease Controls

Ceisteanna (203)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

203. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the trends discovered in the extermination of bovine tuberculosis; the areas in which a breakdown seems to have occurred; the causes of each; the action taken or to be taken to address the issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49450/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Ireland’s bovineTB Programme has had many successes since its inception in 1954 when approximately 80% of cattle herds and 22% of cows in the country were infected with bTB. In the year 2000, nearly 11,000 herds endured a bTB restriction while 40,000 reactors were identified. Now, Ireland has approximately 3,800 herds experiencing bTB outbreaks each year, with around 17,000 cattle declared reactors annually.

This period of rapid improvement in bTB incidence coincided with the implementation of a modern IT disease-management system and the implementation of a wildlife programme. While bTB levels overall are historically lower than ever, since 2016 there has been a gradual increase in disease trends. This  highlight the need for the Programme to continuously adapt as factors influencing disease transmission change.

My Department’s TB eradication Programme aims to drive bovine TB disease levels down towards the target of eradication by 2030. It is focussed on measures which will further reduce transmission of bTB. In the coming weeks, I will be launching a renewed strategy underpinned by the principle of supporting and empowering farmers to reduce the bTB risk to their cattle by making informed choices to protect their herd and their neighbour’s herds. Equally, there is a particular focus on assisting herdowners whose herds are affected with bTB and to clear their herds of infection.

Stakeholders have recognised that further preventative measures are required if the ambition of eradication by 2030 is to be achieved. Steadily reducing the risk of disease transmission is the best way in which support can be provided to all Irish farmers – those whose herds are impacted by bTB and those whose herds are clear and who wish to remain free of the disease. The recommendations made by the bTB Stakeholders Forum have informed the development of this strategy, and stakeholder involvement and leadership will continue to be critical to successfully eradicating bTB.

The risks associated with each potential transmission channel will be reduced through a series of coordinated measures, which will be applied in addition to the existing programme and in full compliance with the EU requirements for bTB eradication.

While the strategy is still be being finalised, some of it central themes will be:

1. Reducing the spread of bTB via cattle to cattle transmission.

2. Reduce transmission at the cattle/wildlife interface

3. Improving farmers' understanding of risk with clearer communication

4. Greater stakeholder leadership, ownership and involvement; and

5. Continually improve programme effectiveness through review and amendments

In addition where higher levels of bTB are occurring in certain areas, my Department will put in place High Intensity TB action plans to address the risks and reduce disease spread. My Department has already implemented a High Intensity TB plan in the Cavan/Monaghan area and a similar plan is currently being rolled out in certain DEDs in County Clare.

Food Wise 2025 Strategy

Ceisteanna (204)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

204. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which objectives and targets as set out by Food Wise 2025 are being achieved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49451/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Food Wise 2025 is the current ten-year strategy for the agri-food sector and underlines the sector’s unique and special position within the Irish economy. It identifies the opportunities and challenges facing the sector and provides an enabling strategy that will allow the sector to develop and prosper. Food Wise includes more than 400 specific recommendations, spread across the five cross-cutting themes of environmental sustainability, market development, competitiveness, innovation and human capital.

If these recommendations are implemented, the expert committee which drew up the Food Wise 2025 Strategy, believed that the following growth projections are achievable by 2025: increasing the value of agri-food exports by 85% to €19 billion; increasing value added in the sector by 70% to in excess of €13 billion; and increasing the value of primary production by 65% to almost €10 billion. With regard to employment, Food Wise foresees the creation of 23,000 additional jobs in the agri-food sector all along the supply chain from primary production to high value added product development.

In July 2019, I launched the fourth annual progress report of Food Wise 2025, Steps to Success 2019. This showed that by 2018, estimated exports had increased by almost 20%, primary production increased by over 13% and the sector’s value addition to the economy was over 24% compared to the baseline. 

As of quarter 2 2019, of the 376 detailed actions which were due to commence by 2019 or are ongoing actions; 87% have been achieved or substantial action has been undertaken and the remainder have commenced and are progressing well.