Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (347)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

347. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of new staff recruited to his Department from January 2019 to date; the title of each employment position; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53635/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The following table lists all staff recruited by my Department from January 2019 to date.  It should be noted that I have included all new hires and re-hires, as well as transfers to my Department during the period in question. 

In line with workforce planning processes and my Department's business needs, staffing numbers will be continuously reviewed and further new recruits will be engaged as required. 

As well as addressing factors that occur annually, such as retirements and transfers out, a key feature of recruitment in the Department in 2019 was the necessity to address potential Brexit contingencies.  

Action

Entry Type

Grade

Number

New Hire

Open Adult Competition

Administrative Officer

4

 

 

Asst Agricultural Inspector

18

 

 

Asst Harbour Master

1

 

 

Asst Principal

2

 

 

Clerical Officer

117

 

 

Craft Worker

2

 

 

Engineer Grade 3  

3

 

 

Executive Officer

23

 

 

Forestry Inspector Grade 3

5

 

 

General Operative

7

 

 

Higher Executive Officer

5

 

 

ICT Apprentice

1

 

 

Laboratory Analyst

11

 

 

Seed Analyst

1

 

 

Technical Agricultural Off

51

 

 

Veterinary Inspector

22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Hire Total

 

 

273

 

 

 

 

Re-hires

Open Adult Competition

Administrative Officer

1

 

 

Asst Agricultural Inspector

4

 

 

Asst Principal

3

 

 

Clerical Officer

45

 

 

Executive Officer

6

 

 

Forestry Inspector Grade 3

1

 

 

General Operative

2

 

 

Higher Executive Officer

1

 

 

Laboratory Analyst

1

 

 

Technical Agricultural Off

2

 

 

Veterinary Inspector

5

Re-hires Total

 

 

71

 

 

 

 

Transfers

Transfer In

Asst Agricultural Inspector

1

 

 

Asst Principal

1

 

 

Clerical Officer

2

 

 

Executive Officer

8

 

 

Professional Accountant

1

 

 

Services Staff

1

 

Transfer In Total

 

14

 

 

 

 

 

Transfer In Mobility Scheme

Asst Principal

1

 

 

Clerical Officer

23

 

 

Executive Officer

17

 

Transfer In Mobility Scheme Total

 

41

 

 

 

 

 

Transfer in Promotion Inter-Departmental

Executive Officer

1

 

 

Higher Executive Officer

1

 

Transfer in Promotion Inter-Departmental Total

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

Transfer in Promotion Open

Administrative Officer

3

 

 

Asst Principal

3

 

 

Clerical Officer

1

 

 

Executive Officer

18

 

 

Higher Executive Officer

3

 

 

Laboratory Analyst

1

 

Transfer in Promotion Open Total

 

29

 

 

 

 

Transfer Total

 

 

86

 

 

 

 

Grand Total

 

 

430

 

Wildlife Control

Ceisteanna (348)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

348. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his attention has been drawn to the concerns in many areas in relation to the increase in the wild deer herd and the difficulties posed for farmers and motorists in rural areas; the measures he plans to implement to reduce the herd; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53697/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Over the last decade, available evidence suggests that the geographic distribution of all species of deer has increased, but neither the precise distribution nor the population density of these species is currently known. Deer appear to be a localised issue in many areas.  In this context, there is a significant challenge in attempting to balance the demands of agriculture, forestry and conservation with the need to ensure that deer populations occupying the same land resources are managed at sustainable levels, and in a responsible and ethical manner. It is critical that landowners take ownership over this issue and organise properly to implement deer management measures on their lands in the correct and sustainable manner.

In 2015, my Department, together with the Department of Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht, published Deer Management in Ireland – A Framework for Action, which recommends a series of actions on deer management and conservation in a number of areas, including addressing the impact of deer in places where they are abundant. The Irish Deer Management Forum was established to implement the various actions listed in the Report. The Forum itself comprises representatives from the main stakeholder areas such as landowners, forestry, hunting and conservation organisations, as well as representatives from both Departments.  The Report provides for a review of the workings of the Irish Deer Management Forum after three years.  Both my Department and the Department of Arts, Culture and Gaeltacht are currently examining the future direction of the Forum and its aims in the context of representation on the Forum, agreed work plans and funding mechanisms.

Adoption of best practice is fully supported by both Departments and the majority of deer management stakeholders. Best practice guidance, adapted to Irish Conditions was published by the Irish Deer management Forum during 2018 and can be accessed via http://idmf.ie/best-practice-guides/.

A number of initiatives have been carried out in Co. Wicklow with a view to defining locally-led approaches to cooperative deer management. My Department is currently supporting a project led by the Wicklow Deer Management Partnership and Wicklow Uplands Forum, aimed at improving cooperation between landowners and local hunters. This project builds on previous experience in Wicklow through projects such as the Ballinastoe Deer Management Project, the Calary Deer Steering Group and the Calary/North–East Wicklow Deer TB survey. These projects provide a good example for other local groups to follow, in areas affected by deer related issues.

The Manor Kilbride Deer Management Group in West Wicklow has also produced very useful and practical code of practice for landowners, to guide successful deer management implementation on farmland, and to formalise agreements between landowners and hunters.

The deer grazing assessment protocol developed by the Wicklow Deer Management project in conjunction with Teagasc is an example for a significant methodology developed for measuring the impact of deer in agriculture, and to improve awareness of deer issues among farmers.

I am encouraging farming groups and local communities concerned with deer population issues to look at the examples from Co. Wicklow and consider how they can follow these in their own areas.

In relation to forestry, my Department introduced a Deer Fencing and Tree Shelter Scheme to protect forests from predation by deer in 2018 as deer can cause serious damage to trees, particularly in native woodlands. Additionally, my Department has also engaged with the Society of Irish Foresters, Teagasc and Third Level Institutes in the delivery of deer management training to professional Foresters and Contractors through a series of seminars and field training events. This work is ongoing.

Common Agricultural Policy

Ceisteanna (349)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

349. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the provisions being made at EU level in relation to the funding of CAP from 2020 pending the completion of a new CAP programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53720/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

At the Agri-Fish Council on 18 November 2019, the Commission presented two proposals for CAP transitional rules to bridge the period between the current CAP programming period (2014-2020) and the CAP post-2020 (2021-2027). Such transitional measures are normal practice between consecutive programming periods, where a gap arises due to any delays in finalising the CAP regulations or a new EU Budget.  

The first and most urgent regulation is the financial flexibility regulation, which allows the continued transfer of funds between pillars I and II in the year 2020.  This is expected to be adopted shortly. 

The second, more substantial, regulation is quite technical and legally complex as it amends seven existing EU Regulations (including the CAP Regulations) to provide for a one-year transitional period in 2021, with EU funding for 2021 as set out in the Commission Proposals for the MFF 2021-2027.

Specifically, it provides options for Member States to extend their entire 2014-2020 Rural Development Programmes for a period of one year to 31 December 2021, to extend for the same period only existing multi-annual commitments in the RDP (agri-environment/climate, organic farming and animal welfare), and to introduce new agri-environment/climate, organic farming and animal welfare commitments in 2021 for a period of one to 3 years. The proposal also makes amendments to the Direct Payments regulation to provide legal certainty in the transitional period.  Discussions on this second regulation will continue in 2020.

I welcome the Commission's proposed transitional regulations, and the flexibility provided within them to allow continuity between the programming periods, as well as the certainty that would be provided for Member States and beneficiaries.  I am continuing to work with the Commission and my European Ministerial colleagues to reach agreement on these important legislative proposals and provide certainty to Irish farmers at the earliest possible date.

Common Agricultural Policy

Ceisteanna (350)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

350. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the present funding levels for CAP will be maintained pending the completion of the new CAP programme post-2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53721/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The issue of continued funding for the CAP post-2020 in the period before the new strategic plans come into effect will be informed by the outcome of the parallel negotiations on the new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2021-2027, as well as the arrangements that will be agreed for the transitional period that will arise between the current and future CAP framework.

As regards the MFF, the European Commission has proposed that funding for the CAP should be set at €365 billion, which equates to a cut of approximately 5%.  I have previously stated that this is unacceptable for Ireland and I continue to work with my European counterparts to build consensus around the need to maintain a strong CAP budget post-2020. As recently as this week, I again took the opportunity at the Agri-Fish Council to emphasise the fundamental importance of protecting the CAP budget.  

It is clear that there are divergent views among Member States on the appropriate level for the budget.  Some (including Ireland) have indicated their willingness to increase their national contributions to the EU budget, once they contribute towards areas of added European value, while others feel equally strongly that the current proposals, such as they are, are too costly.  

As regards transitional arrangements, the Commission recently presented proposals for transitional rules to bridge the gap between the current CAP and the CAP post-2020.  2021 will be the transitional year, and the proposals are made assuming funding for 2021 at the level proposed under the MFF. This is normal practice when there are delays in finalising the EU budget and CAP proposals.  Discussions on the proposals are continuing, and are not expected to conclude until mid-2020.

Beef Exports

Ceisteanna (351)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

351. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the new markets projected to be open for beef exports in 2020; the estimated value of such markets on an annual basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53722/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

According to the CSO, Ireland exported almost €2.4 billion worth of beef with a volume of nearly 135,000 tonnes, to approx. 70 countries in 2018.

Opening new markets and expanding existing ones is a key part of my Department's response to the challenges and uncertainty posed by Brexit, in line with the market development theme of the Food Wise 2025 strategy. In the last two years, my Department has opened a number of new markets for Irish beef including China, Qatar, Kuwait and Ukraine, while at the same time securing expansions in beef access in other markets including Japan and Singapore.  

In 2020, my Department will continue to pursue the opening of new markets and the enhancement of existing ones. My Department works closely with stakeholders, and is guided by Bord Bia research, in identifying priority markets for its market access efforts. However, the pace of market access negotiations is generally determined by the importing country, so it is difficult to accurately forecast when a given market will open.

There is growing demand projected from emerging economies with increasing middle classes and more protein-rich diets. There is confidence that the Irish food industry is well placed to gain from the opportunity presented by this expanding demand, underpinned by the success of our efforts and those of the Irish food industry.  

The role of my Department is to open up markets for the industry and it is then up to the industry, with the support of my Department and Bord Bia, to avail of these opportunities. However, the actual levels of exports will depend on a range of factors, including as global supply and demand dynamics, currency fluctuations and individual customer requirements.

Farm Costs

Ceisteanna (352)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

352. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to introduce grant aid to assist farmers with necessary land reclamation and on-farm drainage works in which ongoing farming activities are being hindered due to the increased rainfall over recent years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53723/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department recognises the impact that climate change is causing to the everyday activities of farmers in Ireland. Adaptation to climate change is a priority for my Department and key actions are set out in the Agriculture, Forest and Seafood Sectoral Adaptation Plan published in September 2019. This Adaptation Plan is about preparing our systems to deal with the inevitable changes in climate, including preparations for events such as flooding, fodder shortages or damage resulting from extreme weather storms in our harbours and forests.

The Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme II (TAMS II) is a series of investment aid schemes, co-funded by the National Exchequer and the European Union under Ireland’s Rural Development Programme 2014–2020 (RDP). TAMS II aims to provide farmers with grant aid to improve or build a specific range of farm buildings or to purchase equipment that will benefit their farm. However, the current programme is fully committed to existing schemes with the allocation totaling €395 million up to 2020.

At all levels, our systems must be prepared and consider alternative options to manage our exposure to the climate change risk.

Departmental Advertising Data

Ceisteanna (353)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

353. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the amount spent on advertising in 2018 and to date in 2019 on Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53736/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department worked in partnership with other Government Departments and Agencies on the Whole-of-Government public information campaign, “Getting Ireland Brexit Ready”.

The total amount spent by my Department on advertising in respect of this campaign to date in 2019 is €13,136.84.  There was no expenditure on advertising by my Department in respect of Brexit in 2018.

Personal Injury Claims

Ceisteanna (354)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

354. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the personal injuries payouts will be published for properties under the ownership of his Department in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form. [53784/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The detailed information requested by the Deputy is not readily available.

It is currently being compiled and I will be in contact with the Deputy as soon as possible.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (355)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

355. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the capital expenditure by his Department in County Louth and east County Meath by location and facility provided or commenced in each of the past four years; the location and purpose of each such expenditure; the new and improved services provided as a result; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53836/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following table.

Draft Table

Beef Environmental Efficiency Scheme Data

Ceisteanna (356)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

356. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of applications to the 2019 beef data and genomics programme by county in tabular form; the number of applications approved and not approved, respectively; the number of applications not approved that were appealed; the number of 2019 advance and balancing payments to the programme that have issued to date; and the value by county. [53851/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) forms part of Ireland’s Rural Development Programme 2014-2020. It involves funding of €300 million over the six year programme and addresses widely acknowledged weaknesses in the maternal genetics of the Irish suckler herd, makes a positive contribution to farmer profitability and reduces the greenhouse gas intensity of Ireland’s beef production. A second programme, BDGP II, was launched in 2017 and will run until 2022.

There are currently 24,111 participants in the Beef Data and Genomics Programmes. Payments to 18,969 of these commenced on the week of the 2nd of December 2019.  Payments will continue to issue on an on-going basis as more famers verify their compliance with the 2019 scheme requirements. The following table details the payments made to date under both programmes at a county level.

County

BDGP I Herds

BDGP I Payments

BDGP II Herds

BDGP II Payments

CARLOW

234

€574,443

12

€64,377

CAVAN

928

€1,576,919

55

€138,114

CLARE

1455

€2,745,356

108

€368,368

CORK 

1318

€2,441,084

81

€241,283

DONEGAL

978

€1,275,611

84

€169,104

DUBLIN

37

€91,044

1

€9,643

GALWAY

1941

€3,239,628

201

€609,672

KERRY

1019

€1,508,281

43

€124,431

KILDARE

226

€551,572

6

€18,785

KILKENNY

460

€1,260,521

30

€130,806

LAOIS

420

€1,019,917

32

€139,777

LEITRIM

652

€774,355

61

€162,607

LIMERICK

603

€1,145,885

39

€131,752

LONGFORD

425

€814,753

37

€101,116

LOUTH

158

€310,540

10

€45,547

MAYO

1526

€2,112,568

154

€372,480

MEATH

401

€976,425

26

€83,171

MONAGHAN

590

€917,773

45

€138,535

OFFALY

426

€1,001,390

32

€166,340

ROSCOMMON

973

€1,588,636

98

€323,518

SLIGO

620

€861,126

45

€119,393

TIPPERARY

758

€1,861,836

50

€200,756

WATERFORD

239

€685,180

7

€27,736

WESTMEATH

507

€1,157,848

34

€169,745

WEXFORD

430

€1,157,626

26

€107,904

WICKLOW

312

€751,997

16

€72,231

Agriculture Scheme Data

Ceisteanna (357)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

357. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of farmers whose contracts will expire on 31 December 2020 and 31 December 2021 for each scheme under the rural development programme including GLAS 1, 2 and 3 and the beef data and genomics programme 1 and 2 in tabular form. [53852/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The following table lists the schemes under the Rural Development Programme with farmer beneficiaries whose contracts will expire on either 31 December 2020 or 31 December 2021. RDP schemes vary in their structure and administration, meaning some would not fit the criteria specified. Furthermore, it should be noted that, depending on the scheme, beneficiaries might already have fulfilled contracts which expired before the dates given and therefore would not feature in the following table.

Scheme  

End Date  

Participants  

  

  

M4 TAMS

31 Dec 2020

8,470 *

M10 GLAS 1

31 Dec 2020

24,773

M10 GLAS 2

31 Dec 2020

10,948

M10 GLAS 3

31 Dec 2021

12,899

AEOS

31 Dec 2020

2,000

M10 BDGP I

31 Dec 2020

22,575

M10 Burren Tranche 1

31 Dec 2020

191

M11 Organics

31 Dec 2020

1,475

M13 ANC

No end contract date - Annual application process

104,312**

M14 Sheep Welfare

Scheduled for 31st Jan 2021

18,502

M16 EIP Local

31 Dec 2021

34

M19 Leader

31 Dec 2020

13

* As TAMS II operates on a tranche by tranche basis, with approvals expiring on an ongoing basis, it is not possible to provide the exact figures requested at this time. The figure given represents the current level of outstanding approvals.

** The ANC/Islands Schemes are subject to a range of eligibility and compliance criteria such as the requirement to meet a minimum stocking density in addition to maintaining minimum livestock units calculated over the twelve months of the scheme year.  Participants must meet all eligibility and compliance criteria in order to become eligible for payment.

Rural Development Programme Data

Ceisteanna (358)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

358. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the average annual payment under each RDP scheme in tabular form. [53853/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The following table contains the average RDP scheme payment per recipient, whether a business, individual or project in 2018. Depending on the administration of the scheme, this can be calendar year or scheme year 2018.

Scheme

Average Payment 2018

 

 

Agri-Environmental Options Scheme

€508

Areas of Natural Constraint

€2,395

Beef Data Genomics Programme

€1,826

Burren Programme

€3,053

Collaborative Farming

€1,401

Continuous Professional Development for Agricultural Advisors

€5,797

European Innovation Projects - Stream A

€33,021

European Innovation Projects - Stream B

€256,519

Early Retirement Scheme

€6,909

GLAS (incl. GLAS Training)

€4,723

GLAS Traditional Farm Buildings

€15,476

Knowledge Transfer

€1,032

LEADER

€26,494

Organic Farming Scheme

€5,542

Sheep Welfare Scheme

€917

Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme

€14,633

Targeted Advisory Service on Animal Health

€240

Agriculture Industry

Ceisteanna (359)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

359. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on the new green deal and proposals relating to the agriculture sector by the European Commission. [53854/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I am watching developments on Europe’s Green Deal closely. It is quite clear that the European agri-food sector will need to play its part in the transition to Europe becoming a carbon neutral continent by 2050. Ireland is committed fully to the European climate ambitions.

I welcome the ambition of the deal for the agri-food sector, the test will be achieving its objectives without compromising economically sustainable food production in rural heartlands across Europe. While the challenges are clear, there are opportunities also. Farmers must produce food in a manner that protects air and water quality, along with enhanced biodiversity, thus meeting the demands of today's consumer.

Maintaining a well-funded CAP will be key, and it remains an absolute priority for this Government. This is a critical component towards enabling a just transition to low carbon rural economy, a key pillar of the Commission's new Green Deal.

Common Agricultural Policy

Ceisteanna (360)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

360. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of CAP transitional measures post-2020. [53855/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

As the Deputy is aware, there is a delay in the adoption of the new CAP proposals and EU Budget post-2020, with a resultant delay in the approval of the CAP Strategic Plan for the period 2021-2027. This has left a gap in the legal and financial framework for the existing CAP measures, including direct payments, rural development, sectoral interventions and the LEADER programme.  A Commission proposal seeks to address this gap through transitional arrangements for the year 2021.

This proposal is quite technical and legally complex, as it amends seven existing EU Regulations to provide for a one-year transitional period in 2021, with financing for 2021 at the amount set out in the Commission Proposals for the MFF 2021-2027.  

Specifically, it provides an option for Member States to extend their Rural Development Programmes 2014-2020 for a period of one year to 2021, subject to certain conditions and restrictions.  In addition, it provides an option of a one-year extension to 31/12/2021 for existing multi-annual commitments in the RDP (agri-environment/climate, organic farming and animal welfare).  It also allows for the introduction of new agri-environment/climate, organic farming and animal welfare commitments in 2021 for a period of one to three years. The proposal also makes amendments to the Direct Payments regulation to provide legal certainty in the transitional period.

Discussions on the proposal will continue under the Croatian Presidency, and it is expected to be adopted in Summer 2020. 

Ireland has welcomed the transitional regulation proposals, which will allow continuity between the programming periods. The proposals are at an early stage of discussion and we welcome the clarifications provided by the Commission and the Presidency to date. We will continue to communicate closely with both as the text of the regulations develops over the coming months. In due course, this will allow us to consider, in more detail, the options available to Ireland during the transition period.

Farm Inspections

Ceisteanna (361, 362)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

361. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the inspection penalty rate will be published for randomised on-farm inspections, namely, land eligibility inspections, cross-compliance inspections including animal IDR and nitrates GAP inspections in each of the years 2013 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the number of holdings selected randomly; the number of holdings with a financial penalty; the percentage of holdings with financial penalty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53857/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

362. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the inspection penalty rate will be published for randomised on-farm inspections, namely, land eligibility inspections, cross compliance inspections including animal IDR and nitrates GAP inspections by county in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the number of holdings selected randomly; number of holdings with a financial penalty; the percentage of holdings with financial penalty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53858/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 361 and 362 together.

The information sought by the Deputy is not readily available at the level of detail requested. Officials in my Department will examine the request and I will respond to the Deputy as quickly as possible.

Meat Processing Plants

Ceisteanna (363, 364, 365)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

363. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the instances of non-compliance with carcase trim specifications his inspectors have identified in beef plants each month in 2019; when the names of the plants involved will be published; the payments made to the farmer supplier to reflect loss; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53859/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

364. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of instances in which mechanical grading was suspended in meat plants in cases in which a machine was found to be working outside of tolerance and manual grading is instigated to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53860/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

365. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason the conformation and fat score data has not been published from all cattle from both the old and new machines in the carcase classification trial; if the data will be published in view of the urgent need to restore confidence in the beef grading system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53861/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 363 to 365, inclusive, together.

To date, in 2019 officers from the Carcase Classification Division conducted over 580 inspections across 32 factories (mechanical and manual grading plants) and over 50,000 carcasses were inspected. In the mechanical grading plants only, there were 420 inspections on 43,000 carcasses across 23 factories.

During these inspections, officers also monitored compliance with the EU reference carcase presentation specification. To date, in 2019, there has been non-compliance found with the carcase trim specification in relation to one factory. The factory has been named on my Department's website.

On the spot fines were issued in relation to this non-compliance. Any compensation payments made to a Farmer Supplier, including in relation to issues such as this, are a matter between the Farmer/Supplier and the Processor/plant.

Regarding the suspension of mechanical grading, this occurred on six occasions and the factories were instructed to revert to manual grading.

Regarding the publishing of information and trial results, my Department fully endorses and supports  the objective of ensuring a robust system of carcass classification and maintaining the confidence of farmers in it.

The requirement for the modification trial conducted in Slaney Meats and the subsequent report, ‘Independent Report on the modification trial of the Mechanical Beef Classification System currently in use in Ireland’,  was to ensure compliance with the EU legislation regarding a modification to the technical specifications of the current classification system.

The EU legislation requires that any modification to a system must ensure a level of accuracy that at least fulfils the minimum requirements for an authorisation test. This trial was supervised by an Independent Expert who concluded that the results are beyond what is required in the EU legislation to approve such modifications and he confirmed that this trial significantly exceeds what is required where classification equipment is being modified rather than being authorised for the first time.

As per the legislation underpinning this trial when evaluating the performance of a classification machine, the machines’ grades are compared against expert classification officer grades. While there is no requirement in the legislation to compare the performance of the modified system against any other mechanical classification system, for completeness and transparency the report shows the performance of the current system (old machine) when compared to the expert graders, which also should be noted, performed to a very high standard.

Proposed Legislation

Ceisteanna (366, 375)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

366. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when he will introduce new legislation to counteract the decision in order to ensure harvesting can proceed in March 2020 to ensure job security for up to 4,000 employed in the sector further to a recent High Court decision in which statutory instruments for the harvesting of horticultural peat was challenged successfully and introduced earlier in 2019 for plots in excess of 30 hectares. [53451/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Robert Troy

Ceist:

375. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans for commercial peat harvesting subsequent to the judicial review into two Statutory Instruments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53667/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 366 and 375 together.

I signed the European Union (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Peat Extraction) Regulations 2019 (S.I. No. 4 of 2019) on 25 January 2019, with the objective of making the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the sole competent authority for peat extraction of over 30 hectares in Ireland, and making Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for such activity mandatory.

In conjunction with the Planning and Development Act 2000 (Exempted Development) Regulations (S.I. No. 12 of 2019), which were signed by the Minister for Housing Planning and Local Government on the same date, these Regulations exempted large-scale peat extraction from planning permission and made the EPA the single competent authority for monitoring large-scale peat extraction through its Integrated Pollution Control (IPC) licencing process.

It was my intention, in bringing forward S.I. No. 4 of 2019, to put in place a robust, streamlined system of regulation for peat extraction, which would provide both high standards environmental protection and certainty for the sector regarding the applicable regulatory requirements.

However, both sets of Regulations were the subject of a Judicial Review brought by Friends of the Irish Environment in April 2019. On 20 September 2019, the High Court set aside both the above referenced Regulations, on the basis that they were incompatible with EU law and were ultra vires under national law.

The judgment, and potential responses on the part of Government, is being given detailed consideration by my Department and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, together with the Attorney General's Office.