Organic Farming Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (488)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

488. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the decision to reject an organic farming scheme application by a person (details supplied) will be overturned on appeal; the reason almost 75% of applicants to the scheme have been refused despite meeting the conditions of the scheme since first applying; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the number of farmers in the scheme is only at the level it was at in 2016; his plans to address the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52585/19]

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 with a budget of €56m allocated for the period 2014 to 2020.

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. The target for the RDP was to attract some 16,000 hectares of new land into production and to support 46,000 hectares of converted land. These targets have been more than exceeded.  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.

Last year, my colleague Minister Doyle established an Organics Strategy Group 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 targeted Scheme was opened for applications up to 19th December 2018 and a total of 225 applications were received. A total of 58 applications were either withdrawn or were deemed ineligible. The remaining 167 applications underwent Ranking and Selection in accordance with the criteria outlined in the Terms and Conditions of the Scheme.  As evident in those Terms, preference was given to the targeted sectors - Horticulture, Cereals and Dairy. 

Following the ranking and selection process, one applicant withdrew, 55 were successful and 111 farmers received letters informing them that they had been unsuccessful.  The Deputy should be aware that in 95% of the unsuccessful applications, the predominant enterprises were not from the targeted sectors identified when the Scheme was launched.  All unsuccessful applicants, including the person named, were given a right of appeal to the Organic Unit of my Department. To date, no appeal has been received from the person named.

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.

Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme

Ceisteanna (489)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

489. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if donkeys will be continued as stocking rates for area of natural constraints payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52586/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

For the 2020 Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) Scheme, donkeys will continue to be eligible for consideration towards an applicant's stocking density requirements.  However, following consultation with stakeholders in advance of the 2019 ANC scheme, it was decided to introduce changes in the scheme stocking requirement in relation to donkeys.  

From the 2020 scheme year, only 50% of an applicant's stocking density can be fulfilled using donkeys and the balance must be fulfilled using other eligible animals.  This change was highlighted in the Terms and Conditions document of the 2019 ANC scheme in order to give sufficient lead in time to applicants who may need to amend their stocking patterns.

Agriculture Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (490)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

490. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason payments have been delayed for farmers in counties Meath and Louth causing severe financial difficulties for farmers in the area with knock-on effects. [52650/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Payments under a range of schemes have been issuing from my Department since September and, in that time, over €1.7 billion has been paid to farmers.  Two of the  main schemes under which payments are currently issuing are the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and the Areas of Natural Constraints scheme (ANC)

Under EU Regulations, all applications under these schemes must be subjected to robust administrative checks prior to payment. The main element of the administrative check is an area assessment. This is achieved by using the detailed database of individual land parcels.  This is known as the Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS) which currently records, electronically, some one million individual land parcels and which is required to be kept fully updated.  

An updated  LPIS is being rolled out across the country, starting in County Louth, as part of an action plan agreed between Ireland and the EU Commission to maintain a quality-assured mapping system which underpins all our area based payments under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).  The maintenance and further development of the Department’s systems in this critical area will provide additional reassurance to EU and national audit authorities.

Only valid applications under the BPS and ANC that fully comply with the requirements of the relevant EU Legislation can be paid. Consequently, all applications under the schemes are subject to administrative checks.   Cases that do not pass the validation process cannot be paid pending a resolution of the error concerned. These errors include over-claims, dual claims, commonage errors and incomplete application forms. My Department enters into correspondence, mainly through the issuing of query letters to farmers, in order to resolve these error cases. In addition, Ground Eligibility inspections are required in respect of 5% of applications. These cases cannot be paid until the inspection process has been completed. 

In relation to the BPS, advance payment issued as scheduled on 16th October, the earliest that payments can commence under the governing EU Regulations. In all, an advance payment worth some €747 million issued to 114,500 farmers on the first pay run, representing an increase of 1,500 farmers paid at the same stage in 2018. In all, some 94% of eligible applicants for the 2019 BPS received their advance payment at the earliest date possible. 

Advance payments under the ANC Scheme commenced in the week beginning 16th September, with payments in excess of €160 million issued to over 75,000 farmers.

Under both the BPS and ANC schemes, balancing payments commenced issuing as scheduled on 2nd and 9th December respectively. The current position with those schemes is that 120,948 BPS applicants have now been paid €1,153 billion and 94,919 ANC applicants have been paid €0.239 billion.

Regular pay runs are in place to ensure that the small number of applicants not yet paid under these scheme are paid once they become clear for payment.

Veterinary Inspection Service

Ceisteanna (491)

James Browne

Ceist:

491. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position regarding the creation of a border inspection post at Rosslare Port, County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52661/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Border Inspection Posts are the facilities at which veterinary inspections are undertaken on products and animals entering the European Union from Third Counties before they are allowed to be placed on the Single Market.  A range of controls are carried out to ensure that the products or animals pose no dangers to human or animal health.

In February of this year, officials from my Department submitted a dossier to the European Commission requesting the approval of Border Inspection Post facilities at Rosslare Port as part of Government-wide Brexit preparedness planning.  The European Commission subsequently communicated that it had approved the BIP facilities for the importation of products of animal origin for human consumption and products of animal origin not for human consumption, excluding bulk products and non-containerised liquids and oils.  Separately, the Commission also approved the facilities for live animals that would enter through Rosslare.

As the UK have not as of yet left the European Union, the facilities have not been activated as a BIP as there are currently no sailings from Third Countries into Rosslare. 

Forestry Data

Ceisteanna (492, 493)

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

492. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of felling and thinning licences appealed in each month since September 2018; the number of appealed applications approved and refused, respectively, in each month; the number of staff dealing with appeals; the impact on the forestry sector of same; his plans to deal with the situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52668/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

493. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of felling and thinning licences on appeal; the length of time it takes to process an appeal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52669/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 492 and 493 together.

The Forestry Act 2014, which was commenced in May 2017, amended the Agriculture Appeals Act, 2001, to allow appeals against decisions of my Department concerning licence applications for forestry felling, planting, forest roads and aerial fertilisation to be dealt with by a Forestry Appeals Committee. I subsequently established the Forestry Appeals Committee in February 2018. The Committee operates independently of my Department, although the remit of the Agriculture Appeals Office was extended in to provide all administrative and secretariat support for the Forestry Appeals Committee.

Three additional administrative staff were recently assigned to the Agriculture Appeals Office to assist with the increased workload. Resource requirements are monitored on an on-going basis. The Committee membership includes eleven Appeals Officers from the Agriculture Appeals Office and an external Chairperson. The legislation provides that the Chairperson and any two ordinary members of the Committee may hear an appeal. The Committee commenced hearing appeals in March 2018.

The number of appeals to the Forestry Appeals Committee has risen from 35 in 2017 to just under 200 in 2018 and to 250 in the first 7 months of 2019. These appeals are almost exclusively from third parties. A decision on a license may be the subject of multiple appeals.

My Department deals with applications for felling licences independently of the appeals process for Forestry Appals Committee. Applications for licences are dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Each application is considered regarding its effect on the surrounding countryside, environment and particularly for its likely impact on any sites designated for conservation proximate to the proposed forestry site, known as Appropriate Assessment Procedures (AAP). The majority of appeals have been in respect of the AAP.

My Department endeavours to issue decisions on forestry licences within four months of receipt of a completed application for a licence, but this may not be possible due to the particulars of the site or the number of licence applications received at any time. Recent changes to AAP designed to take account of recent case law have given rise to delays in processing licence applications, while the new procedures are being put in place.

These AA procedures have been amended to introduce a robust and workable system which will address the issues now faced. Introducing this system involved the recruitment of additional ecological expertise and changes in procedures for the forestry inspectorate. My Department has also concluded a recruitment competition for two new ecologists who are expected to start work within the Department shortly. Forestry district inspectors have undergone training and are continuing to receive support in delivering the new procedures. A categorisation of files affected by these requirements is underway in order to best assess further action needed and by whom. Officials of my Department have met bilaterally with forestry companies, to examine the applications on hand and to assess their backlogs with a view to moving applications forward.

The Deputy should be aware that notwithstanding the above, my Department has issued over 4,000 tree felling licences so far this year, which is an increase of 15% on the same period in 2018.

The number of tree felling licence appeals notified to my Department by the FAC for each month, since September 2018 is indicated in the following table.

Date Appeal Notification from FAC

No. Felling Appeals Notified by FAC

September 2018

2

October 2018

0

November 2018

0

December 2018

0

January 2019

2

February 2019

0

March 2019

3

April 2019

1

May 2019

5

June 2019

2

July 2019

1

August 2019

0

September 2019

14

October 2019

1

November 2019

57

December 2019

14

The FAC may cancel, vary or uphold a decision on a forestry licence application. The number of decisions on appeals made by the FAC and notified to my Department since September 2018 are given in the following table.

Month of Decision by FAC

Decision Upheld

Decision Varied

Decision Cancelled

January 2019

1

February 2019

1

1

July 2019

1

GLAS Payments

Ceisteanna (494)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

494. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when GLAS payments will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52678/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The person named was approved into GLAS 3 with a contract commencement date of 1 January 2017 and has received payments in respect of scheme years 2017 and 2018.

The 2019 claim is currently progressing through the required validation checks and payment is expected to issue shortly. 

GLAS payments are continuing to issue on a weekly basis.

GLAS Payments

Ceisteanna (495)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

495. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a GLAS payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52679/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The person named was approved into GLAS 1 with a contract commencement date of 1 October 2015 and has received payments for scheme years 2015-2018.

During the processing of the 2019 claim, an issue was identified with a Farmland Habitat (Private Natura) claim that requires further checking. Once the issue is resolved, the 2019 payment will be processed.

GLAS payments continue to issue on a weekly basis.

Afforestation Programme

Ceisteanna (496)

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

496. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on whether grants not directly paid to forest owners should not be used in the calculations for the threshold for the provision of a tax clearance certificate for the payment of forestry premiums; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52691/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The current Afforestation Scheme provides grants that cover the full cost of establishment of the plantation and payment of annual premiums to incentivise planting.  The contract for establishing a forest on a specific area is signed between the owner(s) of the land and my Department. There is no third-party involvement in afforestation contracts.

Applicants may mandate that grant payments (not premiums) be paid to a registered forester or forestry company using a mandate document that satisfies the requirements as set out in the Forestry Standards and Procedures Manual. Such mandates are a voluntary arrangement between the applicant and his/her registered forester or company and do not form part of the afforestation contract.  The applicant remains the beneficiary of the grant.

It is a condition of this Scheme that all grant-aided activities shall be conducted in compliance with the laws of the State relating, inter alia, to tax and employment. Proof of compliance, such as the provision of Tax Clearance Certificates, may therefore be required. Tax Clearance is always required if the applicant is in receipt of grants, subsidies or similar type payments from a government department or public authority of €10,000 or more during a 12-month period, in accordance with Revenue Circular 44/2006.

It should also be noted that the sale of timber / biomass is exempt from Income Tax.

Beef Industry

Ceisteanna (497)

Pat Deering

Ceist:

497. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of applications submitted to the BEAM scheme; the breakdown between suckler and beef finishers; the amount required to meet the demand; the amount unspent; and if he will consider reopening the scheme. [52692/19]

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.  Under the terms of that regulation, and the scheme as notified to the European Commission, it is not possible to open a second round of applications for the measure. The measure is co-funded with €50m of funding from the EU being matched by up to €50m of exchequer funds according to demand. 

Applications for BEAM were accepted from 19th August to 20th September 2019. 34,517 approval letters issued to eligible BEAM applicants on the 11th October 2019 and, following further processing and validations, payments under the measure began on 12th December with 32,444 participants going forward for payments totaling €75,188,060.

8,476 participants qualified for payment solely under the Suckler element of the measure with a total payment of €6,016,920.

9,749 participants qualified for payment solely under the Finisher element of the measure with a total payment of €31,341,300.

14,219 participants qualified for payment under the Suckler and Finisher elements of the measure with a total payment of €37,829,840.

BEAM payments will continue to issue on an ongoing basis as more participating farmers are verified as compliant with the requirements of the Measure.

Beef Industry

Ceisteanna (498)

Pat Deering

Ceist:

498. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the way in which the criteria for the BEAM scheme was devised; and his views on whether the criteria were too stringent in view of the fact some funds remain unspent. [52693/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

This measure was born from the fact that the early months of 2019 were very challenging for beef farmers, in particular, following a difficult year for farm incomes in 2018 due to weather conditions. There was a prolonged and exceptional period of depressed prices since the previous autumn, with the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the outcome of Brexit, among other factors, contributing to this market disturbance.

The scheme was designed to ensure that the aid is effectively used and targeted towards those most affected by the market disturbance in the sector as identified by the data available. The eligibility criteria were devised accordingly with some environmental measures also necessary for applicants.  

This temporary exceptional aid provision was given effect through a Commission Implementing Regulation. 

Article 1.3 of the implementing regulation provides as follows:

The measures taken by Ireland shall be aimed at reducing production or restructuring the beef and veal sector and one or more of the following objectives:

(a)  implementation of quality schemes in the beef and veal sector or projects aiming at promoting quality and value added;

(b)  boosting market diversification;

(c)  protecting and improving the farmers’ environmental, climate and economic sustainability.

The implementing regulation was within the competence of the European Commission; member states were invited to comment on the contents of the draft regulation, however, it was not open for negotiation. Ireland subsequently published a formal notification of the scheme as required under the regulation, this is available on my Department's website.

The Department designed the scheme to comply with the Commission Regulation and I am satisfied that the measure as designed offered the most flexibility possible to farmers within the parameters of the regulation.

Data Protection

Ceisteanna (499)

Pat Deering

Ceist:

499. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the data protection measures in place to ensure information stored in animal identification and movement systems cannot be accessed by persons or systems other than relevant Departmental officials. [52694/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The Animal Identification and Movement (AIM) database is a generic system which manages information on livestock including the identification, registration and movement of bovine animals.

No third parties are provided with access to the AIM system without the requisite consent of the herd keeper or where there is a legal basis to provide pertinent information. Third parties are only given access on AIM to facilitate necessary transactions for which they are authorised.  The provision of access on AIM to Livestock Marts and Food Business Operators is restricted to information on the specific animals presented for sale or slaughter.   The aforementioned outlets do not have access to AIM data in relation to the other animals on the presenting herd keepers holding. 

All Department personnel that are required to use AIM as part of their official duties are bound by strict confidentiality and the requirements of data protection legislation.

TB Eradication Scheme

Ceisteanna (500)

Pat Deering

Ceist:

500. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of registered feedlots nationwide; the breakdown between farmer owned and factory owned feedlots; the number of livestock registered to feedlots; and the breakdown of the figure between farmer and factory owned. [52695/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

As part of the TB eradication programme, beef finishing herds, if they meet the necessary criteria, are allowed to avail of a special status, termed “Controlled Finishing Unit (CFU)” (formerly known as "feedlots").   Where a herd meets the criteria to be regarded as a CFU under the programme, the herd is restricted under the TB Regulations and a special official supervisory and testing protocol is established. Such herds are not exempted from testing, reactor removal or disinfection requirements.

Restricted CFUs are TB tested at least once a year. This CFU status arrangement allows the delivery of an effective level of disease risk management while controlling the risk of further disease spread in compliance with animal health legislation and enabling business continuity in this particular type of enterprise through the inward movement of cattle.  Cattle from CFU herds restricted under the TB Eradication programme are only permitted to move to an EU-approved slaughter plant. 

There are currently 477 bovine herds recorded with a CFU status with a total of 132,707 animals in these herds.  My Department does not differentiate CFU herds between farmer and factory owned.

Departmental Funding

Ceisteanna (501)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

501. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if funding will be released as part of a final claim by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52700/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department may transfer monies owing and accruing to a participant in a scheme administered by this Department to a judgment creditor of that person where there is a  court order or other legal basis providing for such transfer.

My Department has examined its records in this matter and have confirmed that, while a court order was obtained, no payments falling within the terms of that order have become owing and accruing from the Department to the relevant judgment debtor.

My Department will write separately to the person named in this matter.

Agriculture Scheme Administration

Ceisteanna (502)

Joe Carey

Ceist:

502. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 816 of 5 November 2019, the way in which his Department communicated with persons (details supplied) following the annual submission of their area aid, single farm payment or basic payment scheme application form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52703/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The persons named were joint herd owners of herd number in question. They applied annually under the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) from 2005, jointly signing their annual application forms as required of joint herd owners, until 2012.

The requirement for joint herd owners to sign annual applications under the SPS was clearly indicated on the annual application form. It constitutes a written undertaking by both applicant(s) to comply with the Terms and Conditions of the scheme. 

In 2012, a request was made by both of the persons named that the entitlements jointly held by them under the SPS be transferred to one of the persons named. My Department wrote to the persons named refusing their request on the basis that a receiver had been appointed and that the Department could not alter the herd arrangements without leave of the Court and/or the receiver.

The decision conveyed in this letter was confirmation that the herd number remained jointly in the names of both persons named. Consequently, the 2012 SPS application would have to be signed by both individuals in order to be a valid application.

During the following four years, the application forms submitted were incomplete as they were signed only by one of the persons named. During this time, the Department sent various correspondence to the persons named relating to their annual applications. No written replies or other communications are recorded as having been received by my Department on this issue.

Consequently, any payments due under the SPS and BPS did not issue.

Basic Payment Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (503)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

503. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a farm payment will be issued to a person (details supplied). [52744/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The person named submitted a 2019 Basic Payment Scheme application on the 13th 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 has now been completed and the results have been processed to finalisation. Payments due under the Basic Payment Scheme will issue shortly to the nominated bank account of the person named.

Basic Payment Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (504)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

504. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a farm payment will be issued to a person (details supplied). [52745/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The person named submitted a 2019 Basic Payment Scheme application on the 4th May 2019. EU Regulations governing the administration of this scheme 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.

Forestry Data

Ceisteanna (505)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

505. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of forestry planting applications, forestry road applications and forestry felling licence applications currently with the Forest Service ecology department; the number sent to external ecologists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52748/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

All forestry licences issued by the Department undergo a legal consent process.  This involves the assessment of the proposed operation regarding its likely effect on the surrounding environment, particularly any sites designated for conservation in the area.  Since 2017, all forestry licence applications received have been subject to a statutory public notification system and are subject to a statutory appeal system operated by the independent Forestry Appeals Committee (FAC).

Most appeals have been in connection with our Appropriate Assessment (AA) procedures.  The Habitats Directive (Article 6.3) requires that where a plan or project is likely to have a significant effect on a Natura site (i.e. a Special Area for Conservation, or Special Protection Area) , either individually or in-combination with other plans or projects, it must undergo an Appropriate Assessment of its implications for that Natura site. 

My Department has made changes to the Appropriate Assessment procedures (AAP) used to examine forestry licence applications.  These changes are required following important Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) decisions and their subsequent interpretation by the Forestry Appeals Committee (FAC) and others.    

AA procedures have been amended to introduce a robust and workable system which will address the issues now faced.  Introducing this system involved the recruitment of additional ecological expertise and changes in procedures for the forestry inspectorate.  Interviews are taking place for additional ecologists under a recently advertised competition.  I expect the successful candidates will be deployed early in the new year.  My Department currently has the support of additional ecological services, with further supports planned for deployment early in 2020.

Forestry district inspectors have undergone training and are continuing to receive support in delivering the new procedures.  A categorisation of files affected by these requirements is underway, in order to best assess further action needed and by whom.  Officials of my Department have met bilaterally with forestry companies, to examine the applications on hand and to assess their backlogs with a view to moving applications forward.

There are currently 950 files requiring ecological input. These files are being worked on by both internal and external ecologists who have been contracted to assist in the screening process.  They are also supporting the development of a template for Appropriate Assessment Reports and Determinations. My Department has also concluded a recruitment competition for two new ecologists who are expected to start work within the Department shortly.

Basic Payment Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (506)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

506. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a farm payment will be made to a person (details supplied). [52751/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The person named submitted a 2019 Basic Payment Scheme application on the 7th May 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.

Basic Payment Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (507)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

507. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a farm payment will issue to a person (details supplied). [52760/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

A 2019 Basic Payment Scheme application was received is respect of the person named on 15 May 2019 and payment due on foot of this application issued recently. 

In relation to the Greening Payment, a supplementary payment will issue in the coming days.

The person named was approved into the GLAS 1 scheme and has been paid for scheme years 2016-2018. However, the application has not yet passed all pre-payment validation checks for the 2019 GLAS advance payment due to issues with the associated BPS application which have now been resolved. The GLAS payment will be processed when all required validations have been completed. GLAS payments continue to be processed on a weekly basis.