Questions Nos. 528 and 529 answered with Question No. 514.

Aquaculture Licence Data

Ceisteanna (530, 531)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

530. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the dates on which each of the aquaculture licenses for Ballyness Bay were granted. [52953/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

531. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reference number of each granted aquaculture licence for Ballyness Bay; and the date on which the applications were received, in tabular form. [52954/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 530 and 531 together.

The information requested is set out in the following table. 

Site Ref No.

Date Original Application Received

Date of Ministerial Determination

T12/407B

08/03/2010

25/11/2019

T12/409 A

30/03/2010

25/11/2019

T12/409 B

30/03/2010

25/11/2019

T12/441 A

26/08/2011

25/11/2019

T12/441 B

26/08/2011

25/11/2019

T12/441 C

26/08/2011

25/11/2019

T12/455 A

18/06/2012

25/11/2019

T12/455 B

18/06/2012

25/11/2019

T12/500A

11/03/2016

25/11/2019

T12/502A

11/03/2016

25/11/2019

T12/510A

02/02/2017

25/11/2019

T12/514A

22/02/2017

25/11/2019

T12/515A

22/02/2017

25/11/2019

T12/516A

22/02/2017

25/11/2019

Departmental Communications

Ceisteanna (532)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

532. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason action will be taken from January 2020 (details supplied) with respect to departmental emails more than two years old; if he was consulted on this decision; if this was an internal decision; and if not, if it was a recommendation from another Department. [52995/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department is implementing a new Email Retention Policy as part of a wider initiative to enhance record keeping and information management within the organisation and to support the implementation of several significant Information Security-related projects, including the Department's ISO 27001 Information Security standard.

This approach is consistent with my Department’s legal obligations under the relevant Data Protection, Freedom of Information and National Archives legislation.  

All staff in my Department have received one year’s notice to prepare for the rollout of this policy. During this period, staff have been reminded regularly to migrate emails of Business Value from their personal corporate email accounts to the appropriate centralised corporate records system before the January 2020 deadline.

As part of an ongoing Information Security awareness campaign and to assist all staff with the new procedures, the Department has provided

- Tailored workshops in several locations throughout the Department’s regional network of offices;

- Regular updates at internal staff and management forums;

- Direct assistance to Divisions with the migration of Business Value data from personalised corporate email boxes into the appropriate centralised corporate records system; 

- ‘’How to Videos’’ and “Frequently Asked Questions” have been made available to staff via the Department's intranet;

- Periodic email reminders have issued to all staff and messages are issuing on an internal Ticker-tape banner, reminding staff of the policy deadline.

Under this policy, emails of Business Value, containing records and data which may be required to answer internal or external requests for information, will now be stored on the relevant file directory or on the new records management system - eDocs - which is being rolled out throughout the Department. 

Emails that are over the two-year period of retention will no longer be available to staff in their individual mailboxes. The deleted emails will be retained centrally for a set period of time and will be recoverable in certain circumstances.

European Maritime and Fisheries Fund

Ceisteanna (533)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

533. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the details of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund; the application criteria; the organisations that may apply; the assessment criteria; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53019/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department's €240 million European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) Operational Programme 2014-2020 is the vehicle for financial supports to the seafood sector and is co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union. 

The Programme delivers a wide range of supports for enterprises and individuals in the fisheries, aquaculture and seafood processing sectors, for coastal communities through the Fisheries Local Action Groups, and for control and enforcement of the Common Fisheries Policy, EU Data Collection and measures under the Integrated Maritime policy.  Supports are delivered through a suite of 18 schemes, covering measures such as innovation and research, capital investment, training, advisory services, marketing, stock conservation and management, and environmental sustainability. 

Details of the various schemes, who may be eligible to apply for aid and the detailed application and assessment criteria are specified in detail on the website of Bord Iascaigh Mhara at the following link:  http://www.bim.ie/schemes.  Eligible beneficiaries of aid and the application and assessment criteria vary depending on the scheme and its target audience.

Nitrates Usage

Ceisteanna (534)

David Cullinane

Ceist:

534. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to lower nitrogen fertiliser use; his further plans to facilitate a switch from calcium ammonium nitrate to urea fertiliser across the farming sector; the timeline and targets set for such a policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53130/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The All-of-Government Plan to tackle climate breakdown identifies 34 priority actions for the Agriculture reflecting our three pillar policy approach to achieving carbon neutrality without comprising sustainable food production through:

1. Reducing agricultural emissions;

2. Increasing carbon removal or sequestration; and

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

While the target for the agriculture sector in the Plan is challenging, immediate action and early adoption is key. My Department has recently published a draft roadmap setting out action targets for delivery of these and other commitments and this is currently in public consultation. As part of the roadmap, actions are  included  to lower nitrogen fertiliser use and to facilitate a switch from calcium ammonium nitrate to protected urea across the farming sector.

From a regulatory perspective, my Department has been working to enhance the framework for nitrogen management on farms through the Nitrates Action Programme (in conjunction with DPHLG) through the new collaborative approach for improved implementation and a focus on soil fertility for better nutrient use efficiency. Opportunities for fertiliser reductions on farms through better grassland management have also been included while seeking co-benefits for other climate and environmental challenges.

A 'voluntary' review by my Department during 2019 of the Nitrates Derogation focussed on improving nitrogen use efficiency on our more intensive farms and the measures recommended by an expert panel will be introduced from January 2020. These included nitrogen use efficiency and greater implementation of trailing shoe technology for slurry application on these more intensive farms.

There are a range of measures and actions that are already contributing positively which will be built on. These improvements have been supported by CAP which will continue to be strongly targeted towards environmental benefits.

I would encourage farmers and stakeholders to fully participate in the public consultation process on our draft roadmap for implementation of these actions.  The consultation will end on Friday 10th January 2020.

Afforestation Programme

Ceisteanna (535)

Brian Stanley

Ceist:

535. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the amount distributed to applicants through the afforestation grant and premium scheme in 2018 and to date in 2019. [53136/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The Afforestation Grant and Premium Scheme is the main forestry scheme offered by my Department as one of a number of supports and land use options available to land owners.  The scheme provides grants that cover the full cost of establishment of the plantation and payment of annual premiums on the land that is planted. 

My Department compiles a number of different afforestation statistics annually, which are made available on my Department’s website. In 2019, to the end of November, a total of €78 million in grants and premiums have been paid to beneficiaries under the Afforestation Grant and Premium Scheme. This total compares to €84 million in grants and premiums paid for the same period in 2018 under this scheme.

Basic Payment Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (536)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

536. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a BPS farm payment will be issued to a person (details supplied). [53140/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The person named submitted an application under the 2019 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) on 17th April 2019.   

Both the 70% advance payment and the 30% balancing payment due to the person named have been paid.

Beef Industry

Ceisteanna (537)

Pat Deering

Ceist:

537. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his view on whether there is an unfairness in the flat rate of VAT refund (details supplied) between feedlot beef producers and small and medium-sized beef producers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53185/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

This question is for answer by the Department of Finance who have responsibilty for taxation matters.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (538)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

538. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the estimated full-year cost of recruiting three additional full-time archaeologists for his Department, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53332/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

As of 1 January 2020, the pay scale of an archaeologist commences at €31,687 rising incrementally to €66,118.  Full details of the pay scale is listed in the tables: 

Point

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

Salary

31,687

33,971

34,582

37,630

40,688

43,747

46,807

48,696

Point

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

Salary

50,580

52,476.

54,360

56,249

58,139

60,024

61,921

64,022

66,118

Upon recruitment, a full-time archaeologist is placed on point one of the scale.  Therefore, the full-year cost to this Department of recruiting three new archaeologists at the first point of the scale is €95,061.

Beef Industry

Ceisteanna (539)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

539. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the specific designation sought from the EU for PGI status for Irish beef; the status of the application; when he expects a decision from the European Union; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53370/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

A Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) is a product which must be produced, processed or prepared in a particular geographical area, and where a specific quality reputation, or other characteristics are attributable to that area. I believe that such schemes can provide a positive economic opportunity for producers and for rural areas.  

Earlier this year, my Department organised a workshop on Geographical Indications, with participation by the EU Commission and a range of stakeholders, at which the possibility of applying for a PGI for Irish beef was explored. Since then, officials from my Department have been working with Bord Bia, in consultation with the EU Commission, on an application for a PGI for Irish Beef.   An application can only be submitted by, or on behalf of, a group of producers.

I hope that it will be possible to submit an application in the first quarter of 2020. The Regulations then require a formal national consultation or "opposition" period.  Following satisfactory completion of this consultation, an application will be formally lodged with the EU Commission for scrutiny and a further consultation or "opposition" procedure. 

I am deeply committed to fully supporting and developing Ireland’s beef sector, which plays an important role in sustaining the rural economy and rural communities across Ireland. The sector has many strengths and one way of capitalising on  these is through the Geographical Indications system, which highlights to consumers the high quality of a given product carrying the logo.

Beef Industry

Ceisteanna (540)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

540. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the progress to date of the recently established beef taskforce; the timeline for the completion of commitments given to the taskforce; the steps he is taking to implement the measures proposed by this Deputy and unanimously adopted by Dáil Éireann on 26 September 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53371/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I have established a Beef 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. The Taskforce will provide a robust implementation structure for commitments entered into in the Beef Talks Agreement, with timelines and stakeholder engagement.  A number of issues raised by the Deputy in the motion referred to are covered in the Agreement. Furthermore, the Beef Taskforce will offer a suitable platform for strategic engagement with key stakeholders, including retailers and regulatory authorities.  

There is a specific webpage on my Department's website dedicated to the Beef Taskforce at https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/farmingsectors/beef/beeftaskforce/.  This webpage contains the agreement reached on 15 September, the Terms of Reference for the Taskforce and updates on actions arising out of the 15 September Agreement.

The first meeting of the Beef Taskforce took place on 3 December. Minutes and update reports from that meeting will be published on the webpage this week. The next meeting of the Beef Taskforce will take place on 9 January.

Dairy Sector

Ceisteanna (541)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

541. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of the national dairy herd in each of the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53393/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The CSO's June Livestock Survey includes the following information for the years 2015-2019

Description

June 2015

June 2016

June 2017

June 2018

June 2019

Dairy cows (000 head)

1,295.8

1,397.9

1,432.7

1,480.9

1,504.8

2019 data is based on the CSO Crops and Livestock Survey June Provisional Estimates. More detailed data from the CSO's June and December Livestock Surveys each year is available at the CSO website.

Dairy Sector

Ceisteanna (542)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

542. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of dairy cows in dairy herds that had a calf registered previously that did not have a calf registered in the past 18 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53394/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The information requested by the Deputy is being collated at present and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Forestry Sector

Ceisteanna (543)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

543. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of tree felling licences that were challenged and delayed and subsequently had a negative impact on the industry; and if extra staff have been deployed to meet with the delays. [53395/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The Forestry Act, 2014 amended the Agriculture Appeals Act, 2001, to make provision for the establishment of a statutory forestry licence appeals process and the Forestry Appeals Committee (FAC).  SI 68/2018 laid down the detailed provisions and the FAC commenced hearing appeals in 2018. The Deputy should be aware that the FAC operates independently of my Department. 

 The FAC requests documents on appealed decisions from my Department, organises their schedule of oral hearings and issues their decisions on the appeal.  An appeal decision may be to cancel, vary or uphold a decision on a forestry licence application.

In addition to the establishment of the FAC, the Forestry Act 2014, provided for public consultation on all forestry licence applications.  Details of applications are published on my Department’s website.  Site notices are erected at tree felling sites, to inform the public that a valid tree felling licence is in place. 

 All forestry licence decisions are subject to appeal by those dissatisfied with the decision, that is applicants and third parties.  28 days is provided in which an appeal should be lodged in writing to the 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, either individually or in-combination with other plans or projects, it must undergo an appropriate assessment of its implications for that Natura site.  

 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 have taken place for additional ecologists under a recently advertised competition and I expect that the successful candidates will be deployed early in the new year.  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.

 Furthermore, three additional administrative staff were recently assigned to the Agriculture Appeals Office to give administrative support to the Forestry Appeals Committee in view of the increased workload.

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.

Beef Industry

Ceisteanna (544)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

544. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the weekly kill weight across beef processing factories from January 2019 to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53399/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Detailed information on weekly kill weights by category is provided on my Department's website as follows: https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/farmingsectors/beef/beeffactorypricesweeklyreports/2019/averageweightforsteerscowsheifersyoungbullsbulls/ 

Beef Industry

Ceisteanna (545)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

545. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the weekly import weight of beef from January 2019 to date in 2019, in tabular form; the countries from which the beef is sourced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53400/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) provides a monthly breakdown of beef imports by weight. According to the CSO data, imports into Ireland for the period January to September 2019 were 91,867 tonnes, or €21 million in value terms. 

The following table provides further detail in relation to the countries from which these imports were sourced. 

Country

€000

Tonnes

Great Britain

69,180

16,028

Northern Ireland

11,579

2,911

Poland

3,305

861

Netherlands

2,628

886

Spain

2,380

540

Germany

716

121

Lithuania

468

208

Unknown (Non-EU)

406

72

Sweden

342

89

France

341

53

Belgium

200

43

Denmark

184

44

Italy

83

11

Brazil

24

4

Argentina

11

1

Switzerland

9

1

Slovakia

6

2

China

2

0

Uruguay

2

0

Latvia

2

1

Iceland

0

0

Grand Total

91,868

21,876 

Beef Exports

Ceisteanna (546)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

546. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the weekly export weight of beef from January 2019 to date in 2019, in tabular form; the countries to which the beef is going to; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53401/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) provides a monthly breakdown of beef exports by weight. According to the CSO data, exports from Ireland for the period January to September 2019 were 393,312 tonnes, representing €1.7 billion in value.

The following table provides further detail on beef exports for the period, by destination.

 

Jan-Sep 2019

Country

€000

Tonnes

Great Britain

664,643

153,761

France

183,294

40,615

Netherlands

147,250

32,958

Italy

144,394

20,950

Germany

105,682

14,999

Northern Ireland

76,155

21,187

Sweden

61,387

14,752

Hong Kong

44,860

13,796

Spain

42,253

8,867

Belgium

40,866

4,504

Denmark

34,121

9,448

Philippines

30,273

14,971

China

23,378

5,138

United States

19,071

3,522

Switzerland

15,354

1,465

Czech Republic

14,674

2,850

Portugal

11,976

2,236

Poland

8,235

3,068

Ghana

5,514

5,420

Malta

5,505

886

Japan

5,348

1,184

Vietnam

3,910

1,408

Luxembourg

3,906

308

Austria

3,465

857

Canada

2,790

709

Senegal

2,485

3,394

South Africa

2,390

2,199

Ivory Coast

2,316

3,020

Slovakia

2,266

404

Finland

2,177

383

Trinidad & Tabago

1,670

481

Romania

1,323

280

Norway

847

102

Croatia

802

131

Bulgaria

730

120

Singapore

575

166

Greece

530

59

Hungary

526

168

Saudi Arabia

428

59

Georgia

418

179

Barbados

374

101

Slovenia

306

29

Tunisia

298

278

United Arab Emirates

291

16

Lebanon

281

284

Cyprus

262

27

South Korea

254

94

Guinea

243

228

Morocco

239

66

Liberia

220

275

French Southern Terr

211

84

Lithuania

205

56

Jamaica

203

50

Australia

180

47

Congo

172

196

Mozambique

170

251

Estonia

144

39

Libya

92

25

Sierra Leone

78

75

Pitcairn

72

25

Gibraltar

63

14

Gabon

25

25

Bahrain

18

4

Mauritius

17

25

Latvia

13

2

Tanzania United Rep

8

2

Grand Total

1,722,226

393,322

Beef Imports

Ceisteanna (547)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

547. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the criteria applied for inspections of beef imports and exports at ports here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53402/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The import of products of animal origin from third countries into the EU 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 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.  Third countries and establishments in such countries from which product may be imported must, in the first instance, meet the criteria for 'listing' by the EU. 

Consignments of products of animal origin, including beef, being imported into the European Union from such Third Countries and establishments must be presented to an approved Border Inspection Post (BIP) to undergo a range of veterinary checks to ensure that they pose no danger to human or animal health before they can be released into free circulation. In Ireland, these controls are carried out by staff of my Department and each BIP is under the responsibility of an Official Veterinarian of the Department.

The criteria for beef exports from Ireland to third countries differs from country to country. Beef exports are only certified by a DAFM Official Veterinarian when they fulfil the relevant criteria laid down by the  particular third country in question.