Animal Slaughtering

Question No. 1032 answered with Question No. 1029.

Ceisteanna (1031, 1035, 1036)

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

1031. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the percentage of the overall kill of cattle in the previous three years up to the end of August 2020 that came from feedlots [27205/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

1035. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the percentage of cattle slaughtered for the previous three years up to the end of August 2020 that came from factory owned feedlots; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27330/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

1036. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the percentage of the overall kill of cattle for the previous three years up to the end of August 2020 that came from feedlots; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27331/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1031, 1035 and 1036 together.

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.

Restricted Controlled Finishing Units are TB tested at least once a year. This Controlled Finishing Unit 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 Controlled Finishing Unit herds restricted under the TB Eradication programme are only permitted to move to a EU-approved slaughter plant.

Data on the throughput of Controlled Finishing Units are published on my Department’s website: https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/media/migration/animalhealthwelfare/animalidentificationandmovement/cattlemovementmonitoringsystem/bovinebirthandmovementsmonthlyreports/Kill%20numbersatEUapprovedslaughterplantsoriginatinginControlledFinishingUnits170820.xlsx The proportion of the overall national bovine kill originating from Controlled Finishing Units for the period from 2017 to TYD 2020 is 16%.

My Department does not differentiate herds on the Animal Identification and Movement System (AIM), CFU or otherwise, between farmer and factory owned.

Question No. 1032 answered with Question No. 1029.

Tuberculosis Eradication Programme

Ceisteanna (1033)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

1033. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the records held by his Department relative to a positive TB test on an animal owned by a person (details supplied) will be amended in view of the fact subsequent tests were negative and the incorrect record is affecting the value of the herd; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27226/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Under the so called ‘singleton protocol’ where a single reactor is disclosed in a herd, and where other criteria reflective of lower risk are met, a herd may be derestricted and thus their breakdown ended earlier than is the normal period for TB breakdowns.  The criteria for passing the protocol are;

1) There must be only one reactor disclosed on the test

2) Skin test readings must have specific characteristics

3) The herd must not have had its trading status withdrawn with TB during the 3 years prior to this reactor

4) None of the contiguous herds are concurrently withdrawn status. Herds with single reactors identified on Test type 8, by virtue of the contiguous association to a high-risk TB breakdown, are excluded from eligibility for the singleton programme.

5) Forward traced, high risk animals, or animals that originated in a herd where cohorts were reactor by virtue of their association with and origin in a high risk breakdown herd are ineligible for Singleton Protocol.

6) The reactor animals must not have visible lesions indicative of TB progression and culture for M Bovis in the lab must return a negative result.

If all of these conditions are met, the herd may be de-restricted following one clear test, carried out at least 60 days after the removal of the reactor. This is in contrast to the normal requirements following a positive TB test whereby at least two clear tests are required before a herd is de-restricted.

The herd of the person named did meet the criteria for being considered under the singleton protocol. Herds de-restricted following one clear test under the singleton protocol (as was the case with this herd) are still considered to have experienced a TB breakdown, but the lower risk status allows for earlier derestriction.

Agriculture Industry

Questions Nos. 1035 and 1036 answered with Question No. 1031.

Ceisteanna (1034)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

1034. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will give detailed consideration to the issues raised in a 2021 Budget Submission by an Association (details supplied); if the concerns of the sector which will be adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit will be addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27290/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department engages with stakeholders, including the IFA, on an ongoing basis. I met with the IFA earlier this month and my colleague Minister Heydon met with them last week to specificallty discuss their pre-budget submission.  The issues raised will be considered in the context of Budget 2021 deliberations.

Last week, I chaired my first meeting of the Food Wise 2025 High Level Implementation Committee, to discuss Brexit preparations and the ongoing Covid-19 response in respect of the agri-food sector with my own Department and other relevant Departments and State agencies.

Questions Nos. 1035 and 1036 answered with Question No. 1031.

Departmental Correspondence

Ceisteanna (1037)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

1037. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the receipt of a pre-Budget submission from an organisation (details supplied) will be acknowledged; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27344/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Macra Na Feirme’s pre-Budget 2021 submission has been received by my Department.  My Department engages with stakeholders, including Macra Na Feirme, on an ongoing basis.

I met with Macra Na Feirme earlier this month to discuss their pre-budget submission and the issues raised will be considered in the context of Budget 2021 deliberations.

Departmental Staff

Ceisteanna (1038)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

1038. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of requests on hand from his Department and from State agencies under the aegis of his Department for approval to increase staff levels; the number of public and civil servants in total involved in these requests; the method by which decisions are made on the requests; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26474/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department uses workforce planning processes to identify the critical resource needs required to deliver its business goals.  Workforce planning is a key tool in enabling my Department to forecast its current and future staffing needs (subject to the limits of the annual estimates process, the usual budgetary constraints and approvals by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform). The Workforce Plan aims to ensure a long-term, proactive and strategic plan by which my Department aims to have the right people, with the right levels of talent and skills, in each location and Division, doing the right thing at the right time. 

My Department operates in a rapidly changing environment and its structure must facilitate the flexibility to deploy resources to priority work, as the need arises.  As business needs arise, staff are allocated to support organisational priorities within my Department.  Overall staffing levels within Divisions are continually monitored and staff transfer in and out of Divisions as the workload demands.  Where skills gaps have been are identified, the HR Division reviews these requests on a quarterly basis and approves staff assignments on the basis of business cases made by Divisions.  One such iteration of this process has just been completed, so no requests are currently on hand for consideration from within the Department.   

The question of staffing levels in the State Agencies under the aegis of my Department is an operational matter, generally delegated to the Agencies themselves and I will ask the Agencies to respond directly to the Deputy on this matter.  However, I am aware of one request for additional staff resources, related to Brexit.

National Volunteering Strategy

Ceisteanna (1039)

Cormac Devlin

Ceist:

1039. Deputy Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Community and Rural Development and the Islands if she will provide an update on the progress that has been made on the National Volunteering Strategy and the time frame for the full implementation of the same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27000/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Community)

Supporting the role of volunteers in our society is an important element of my Department's work in developing vibrant, sustainable and inclusive communities.  Consequently, the development of a National Volunteering Strategy is a key priority for my Department.

The first step in the development of the Strategy was a Call for Input paper launched in December 2018. The responses received were presented to the National Advisory Group on Volunteering which is representative of all stakeholders and is chaired by the Minister of State. This group has met on four occasions to date and has provided a comprehensive input into the development of the strategy. In addition, officials from the Department attended a youth consultation event organised by Foróige to seek the input and engagement of young people into the development of the strategy.

Following the input of the Advisory Group, a public consultation process on the draft Strategy ran from 20th December 2019 to 31st January 2020.  My Department received over 90 responses and was due to meet the National Advisory Group last March to discuss these responses. However, due to the events around COVID-19, it was not possible to meet with the group at that time.

A revised draft of the strategy, taking into account the responses from this second public consultation, as well as learnings from the COVID-19 experience, have now been issued to the National Advisory Group for consideration.  The Advisory Group is due to meet this week with the intention of agreeing a final draft.

Once finalized and agreed with the Minister, it is proposed to present the five year Strategy on Volunteering to Government for approval.

Rural Development Programme

Ceisteanna (1040)

Kieran O'Donnell

Ceist:

1040. Deputy Kieran O'Donnell asked the Minister for Community and Rural Development and the Islands if she will address a matter regarding the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26540/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Community)

My Department is responsible for the Seniors Alert Scheme which encourages community support for vulnerable older people in our communities through the provision of personal monitored alarms to enable them to live securely in their homes with confidence, independence and peace of mind.  Funding is available under the scheme towards the purchase by a registered community-based organisation of a personal alarm or pendant.

Pobal administers the scheme on behalf of my Department. In the first instance contact should be made with the local community-based organisation. Currently there are 42 approved organisations operating the scheme in County Limerick, with approximately 12 of these covering all or parts of Limerick city. Details of these organisations can be found at www.pobal.ie, or by telephone at 01 5117222. Officials in my Department have passed on the contact details provided to Pobal to assist with the query in question.

Rural Development Programme

Ceisteanna (1041)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

1041. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Community and Rural Development and the Islands if a decision has been made on an application for emergency funding by an organisation (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26776/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Community)

My Department currently supports over 400 community organisations under the Community Services Programme (CSP).  The organisation in question is supported under the CSP and has been allocated €57,099 in resect of three full time equivalent positions for 2020. In addition, the 2020 CSP Support Fund, which provided additional funding to many CSP supported organisations to assist them to retain their CSP supported employees on their payroll during this crisis period has also provided additional funding of €2,619 to the organisation. 

Pobal, who manages the programme on behalf of the Department, is currently reviewing the financial position of all CSP supported organisations, as the ability to generate income, for many of them, has been greatly hampered by the Covid-19 crisis.  In this regard, a Financial Survey issued to all CSP supported organisations and a detailed analysis of the data collected is underway and will be completed in the coming weeks.  Additional supports to CSP supported organisations will be considered in light of the survey and available resources. 

I note from the information provided that the organisation in question has a number of minor capital repairs or upgrades that are required to be undertaken.  My Department announced The Community Enhancement Programme in June, with funding of €2m provided towards small capital grants to community organisations.  Separately, under the July stimulus package my Department launched a €5m additional fund under the Community Enhancement Programme, for repairs or upgrades to community centres and community buildings.  Details are available on the following link: https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/2af76-minister-joe-obrien-announces-details-of-5m-funding-for-community-centres-community-facilities/.

Programme for Government

Ceisteanna (1042)

Marian Harkin

Ceist:

1042. Deputy Marian Harkin asked the Minister for Community and Rural Development and the Islands the steps that have been taken to advance the commitment in the Programme for Government to prioritise a State-led rural development programme to bridge the gap between the wind-up of the existing Leader Programme and the implementation of the new programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26965/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Community)

LEADER is co-funded by the European Commission under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The current programming period concludes in December 2020.  Proposals for new regulations for the CAP 2021-2027 were launched in June 2018 by the European Commission.  However, given the nature of the discussions on the CAP and the wider EU Budget post-2020, there has been a delay in adopting these proposals.  This means that the next LEADER programme will not now commence until January 2022 at the earliest.

The Programme for Government includes a commitment to bridge the gap between the current LEADER programme and the next programming period.  The European Commission has also published proposals for transitional measures to allow for continuity between the programming periods.  The Commission's Transitional Regulation is still under negotiation and there are still a number of issues to be resolved over the coming months, including the duration of the transitional period.  

Decisions relating to the Programme for Government commitment for a transitional LEADER programme will be taken shortly, having regard, inter alia, to any transitional arrangements that may be agreed at European level.

Rural Development Programme

Ceisteanna (1043)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

1043. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Community and Rural Development and the Islands if funding will be provided for a walking project (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27027/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Community)

I can confirm that an Expression of Interest to be included in my Department's Walk Scheme has been received by my Department in respect of the project referred to by the Deputy. 

A general review of the Walks Scheme is currently in train and decisions in respect of the inclusion of additional trails, based on Expressions of Interest received, will be taken following the completion of that review. 

It is anticipated that the review process which is being undertaken by an external consultant for my Department will be concluded in the final quarter of this year.

Local Improvement Scheme

Ceisteanna (1044)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

1044. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Community and Rural Development and the Islands when further funding will be released to local authorities to complete local improvement scheme roads; the amount sought for such roads by Kerry County Council; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27037/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Community)

The Local Improvement Scheme, or LIS, is a programme for improvement works on small private or non-public roads in rural areas which are not under the normal maintenance of the Local Authorities.  The scheme is funded by my Department and is administered through the Local Authorities. 

There was no dedicated funding available for this scheme for a number of years until it was re-launched in 2017.  Since then, over €58 million has been allocated to the Local Authorities to deliver the scheme.

In March this year, €10 million was made available for the 2020 Local Improvement Scheme, with each Local Authority being provided with the same financial allocation as 2019.  The amount of funding allocated to Kerry under the 2020 Scheme is €669,930.

All Local Authorities have determined the roads to be funded under the scheme this year and funding letters of offer have issued to the Local Authorities on this basis.

I expect all roads designated by the Local Authorities to be completed by the end of the year; therefore, there is no additional funding available for distribution to the Local Authorities under the LIS this year.

The Programme for Government includes a commitment to ensure that the Local Improvement Scheme is funded into the future.  Decisions on the level of funding available for the scheme will be made in the context of the annual Estimates process.

Ministerial Advisers

Ceisteanna (1045)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

1045. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Community and Rural Development and the Islands if a schedule of advisers and special advisers appointed and or recruited by him since his appointment will be provided; the roles and responsibilities attributed to each; and the salary for each appointee in tabular form. [27063/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Community)

On the commencement of every Dáil, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform issues guidelines setting out the arrangements for the staffing of Ministerial Offices. The appointment of Special Advisers is subject to section 11 of the Public Service Management (PSMA) Act 1997.

The Guidelines for the 33rd Dáil, which incorporate the principles of section 11 of the PSMA Act, have issued to all Government Departments.

The appointment of individual Special Advisers is a matter for each Government Minister subject to the terms set out in the aforementioned guidelines, however the Deputy may wish to note that I have assigned two Special Advisers, to work with me, a Special Adviser on policy, and a Press Adviser.

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform must be notified of the rate of salary to be paid in all cases for Special Advisers. These rates will then be published on the website of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Departmental Staff

Ceisteanna (1046)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

1046. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Community and Rural Development and the Islands the number of requests on hand from her Department and from State agencies under the aegis of her Department for approval to increase staff levels; the number of public and civil servants in total involved in these requests; the method by which decisions are made on the requests; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26474/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Community)

My Department uses workforce planning processes to identify the critical resource needs required to deliver its business goals.  Workforce planning is a key tool in enabling my Department to forecast its current and future staffing needs (subject to the limits of the annual estimates process, the usual budgetary constraints and approvals by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform). The Workforce Plan aims to ensure a long-term, proactive and strategic plan by which my Department aims to have the right people, with the right levels of talent and skills, in each location and Division, doing the right thing at the right time. 

My Department operates in a rapidly changing environment and its structure must facilitate the flexibility to deploy resources to priority work, as the need arises.  As business needs arise, staff are allocated to support organisational priorities within my Department.  Overall staffing levels within Divisions are continually monitored and staff transfer in and out of Divisions as the workload demands.  Where skills gaps have been are identified, the HR Division reviews these requests on a quarterly basis and approves staff assignments on the basis of business cases made by Divisions.  One such iteration of this process has just been completed, so no requests are currently on hand for consideration from within the Department.   

The question of staffing levels in the State Agencies under the aegis of my Department is an operational matter, generally delegated to the Agencies themselves and I will ask the Agencies to respond directly to the Deputy on this matter.  However, I am aware of one request for additional staff resources, related to Brexit.