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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 476-499
 Header Item Aquaculture Licence Applications
 Header Item GLAS Administration
 Header Item Basic Payment Scheme Penalties
 Header Item Departmental Staff Redeployment
 Header Item Information and Communications Technology
 Header Item Common Agricultural Policy Negotiations
 Header Item Farm Enterprises
 Header Item Brexit Issues
 Header Item Budget 2018
 Header Item Budget 2018
 Header Item Aquaculture Licence Applications
 Header Item Beef Data and Genomics Programme
 Header Item Animal Disease Controls
 Header Item Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme Funding
 Header Item Agriculture Scheme Payments
 Header Item GLAS Data
 Header Item GLAS Data
 Header Item Agriculture Scheme Appeals
 Header Item Sheep Welfare Scheme Funding
 Header Item Beef Data and Genomics Programme
 Header Item Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme Payments
 Header Item Lobbying Data
 Header Item Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme Payments

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 960 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 95 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 476-499

Aquaculture Licence Applications

 476. Deputy Tom Neville Information on Tom Neville Zoom on Tom Neville asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed further to Parliamentary Question No. 247 of 18 May 2017, if an aquacultural licence will be granted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42926/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The application for an aquaculture licence referred to by the Deputy is in respect of a site located in Castlemaine Harbour, which is designated as a Special Area of Conservation under the EU Habitats Directive and a Special Protection Area under the EU Birds Directive (Natura 2000 site).

All applications in, "Natura", areas are required to be appropriately assessed for the purpose of environmental compliance with the EU Birds and Habitats Directives. My Department, in conjunction with the Marine Institute and the National Parks and Wildlife Service, NPWS, is engaged in a comprehensive programme of gathering the necessary baseline data appropriate to the Conservation Objectives of, "Natura", areas.  This data collection programme is substantially complete.  This is followed by data analysis and the setting of appropriate Conservation Objectives by the NPWS.  Once this process is complete all new, renewal and review aquaculture applications can be appropriately assessed for the purpose of ensuring compliance with the EU Birds and Habitats Directives.

The Appropriate Assessment of Castlemaine Harbour has been completed and the relevant licensing determinations have been made based on applications to hand at the time of the assessment.

The specific application referred by the Deputy was submitted to my Department subsequent to the carrying out of the Appropriate Assessment process for this harbour. Accordingly, it was not possible to assess this application against the designated Conservation Objectives for the harbour.

The optimum method for appropriately assessing applications by individual operators, who were not included in the initial overall assessment procedure, is under active consideration by my Department. The process must comply with best scientific practice and be achieved in a manner which will be acceptable to the national authorities and to the European Commission.

In the meantime, the assessment procedures agreed with the European Commission require Appropriate Assessments in respect of aquaculture activities to be carried out by the national authorities and unilateral departure from these arrangements is not possible.

Every effort is being made to expedite the conclusion of this matter as soon as possible..

GLAS Administration

 477. Deputy Tom Neville Information on Tom Neville Zoom on Tom Neville asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the progress in the development of the information technology systems for GLAS payments in view of the fact that there are still a considerable number of persons waiting for payment. [42927/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed In the context of the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, my Department has delivered over 20 new schemes, including GLAS, that were supported by IT capability. In relation to GLAS, payments my Department has an excellent record in the delivery of high-quality ICT systems.  We have been consistently among the first to make payments in the EU.

During the 2016 GLAS advance prepayment checking process, some information technology issues arose.  Substantial work has been done to ensure that the system is well placed to process future payments. Some 99.5% and 98% of all 2015 and 2016 applicants, respectively, have been paid their advance. 

Currently, the biggest delay in paying 2016 GLAS balancing payments is caused by delays in the submission of outstanding Nutrient Management Plans, NMP. The NMP is a core scheme requirement, and I urge all GLAS 1 and 2 participants and their Advisors to attend to this urgently so that outstanding balancing payments and future payments can issue and to ensure ongoing participation in the Scheme. As of October 6, just under 7,745 NMPs remained outstanding. Further GLAS 1 and 2 payments cannot issue until a NMP is submitted to the dedicated online NMP system..

Basic Payment Scheme Penalties

 478. Deputy Tom Neville Information on Tom Neville Zoom on Tom Neville asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the status of the request by a person (details supplied) to have the 20% sanction imposed on their basic payment following an inspection reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42928/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The person named was the subject of a Nitrates inspection on 27 February 2017, carried out by my Department on behalf of the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.

This inspection identified breaches of the cross-compliance requirements under the Nitrates Regulations relating to the discharge of slurry and soiled water directly into a nearby watercourse. This resulted in an overall penalty of 20% being applied against his 2017 Direct Payments Schemes.

The person named was notified of this decision on 4 April 2017. He has requested a review of this decision and this is currently being examined by the District Inspector. The person named will be notified directly of the outcome of this review as soon as possible.

In the event that the person named is dissatisfied with the outcome of this review, the decision can be appealed to the independent Agriculture Appeals Office, within three months..

Departmental Staff Redeployment

 479. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the number of agricultural technical officer appointments which have been made in counties Galway, Mayo and Roscommon in 2016 and to date in 2017; the number of agricultural technical officer vacancies in counties Galway, Roscommon and Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42954/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed Business needs in my Department’s offices in Galway, Roscommon and Mayo are met in the first instance through an internal transfer system whereby serving staff are given the opportunity to transfer to a different work location.  Under this system, three Technical Agricultural Officers, TAOs, have moved to the Galway and Roscommon Regional Offices and arrangements are currently in train to transfer further officers to the three Offices. My Department is currently engaged in an extensive recruitment campaign for TAOs, and as soon as new recruits are appointed, the transfer of current serving officers who are seeking to move to Galway, Mayo and Roscommon will proceed. The internal transfer system will facilitate filling of current business needs in these counties, therefore no new recruits have been appointed to these offices to date..

Information and Communications Technology

 480. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed when information technology issues related to GLAS and AEOS payments will be resolved; the reason for the problems forcing the exacerbation of delays; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43010/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed In the context of the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, my Department has delivered over 20 new schemes that were supported by IT capability. In the first two years of the current RDP programme, my Department has already implemented substantially more RDP schemes than were implemented over the entire ten-year lifetime of the previous RDP programme. 

This rate of delivery and draw-down would not have been possible without the availability of high-quality complex IT software systems to support the business units in operating these schemes. Since 2014, my Department has adopted a policy of implementing fully digital end-to-end support for all but the smallest of schemes.

My Department has an excellent record in the delivery of high-quality ICT systems.  We have been consistently among the first to make payments in the EU.

During the 2016 GLAS advance prepayment checking process, some information technology issues arose.  Substantial work has been done to ensure that the system is well-placed to process future payments. 

Currently, the biggest delay in paying 2016 GLAS balance payments is caused by the delay by participants in submitting their outstanding Nutrient Management Plans, NMP. The NMP is a core scheme requirement and I urge all GLAS 1 and 2 participants and their Advisors to attend to this urgently so that outstanding balancing payments and future payments can issue and to ensure ongoing participation in the Scheme. As of October 6, just under 7,745 NMPs remained outstanding. Further payments cannot issue until an NMP is submitted to the dedicated online NMP system.

In the case of AEOS payments, cases were worked through systematically and paid on a weekly basis as they were finalised. I am happy to announce that all of these cases have now been finalised and that there are no ongoing information technology problems in relation to AEOS..

Common Agricultural Policy Negotiations

 481. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the plans he has raised with EU officials regarding the need to protect the current CAP budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43011/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The future of the CAP is an issue of enormous importance for the European and Irish agrifood sectors. The CAP has demonstrated its capacity to evolve effectively in response to changing market, consumer and environmental demands in recent years, to the point where it now plays a central role in delivering the smart, sustainable and inclusive growth sought under the Europe 2020 strategy.

The European Commission has signalled that it will publish its CAP communication on 29 November 2017. However, discussions on the Multi-Annual Financial Framework post-2020, which are inextricably linked to the future of CAP, are unlikely to commence now until mid-2018.

There will undoubtedly be pressure on the future CAP budget, both as a result of the potential impact of Brexit on future EU budgets and because of emerging issues in areas such as immigration and defence.

My position on this matter has been articulated at official and political level and is well-understood by Commissioner Hogan, my European counterparts and in the Commission. I will continue to work with European counterparts to ensure that the CAP budget post-2020 is well-funded and provides a solid and effective foundation for the development of the sector into the future. .

Farm Enterprises

 482. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the way in which he plans to protect the future of suckler and tillage farming; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43012/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed I am very conscious of the importance of both the suckler and tillage sectors to Ireland's rural economy and the challenges currently facing both sectors.

My Department is providing a number of supports to the suckler herd. The Beef Data and Genomics Programme is the main support for the suckler sector and provides farmers, with some €300 million of funding over Rural Development Programme period.

In response to significant demand, earlier this year I re-opened the BDGP programme for new entrants, reflecting the success of this programme, which targets both the environmental footprint and the profitability of the suckler herd through improving the genetic merit in participating herds. There are currently 25,669 participants.

There are a number of challenges facing the beef sector including the suckler sector in the short and medium term, particularly exchange rate volatility and Brexit. One of my priorities now is to further increase the market opportunity for Irish food and drink internationally. We are an exporting nation, with 90% of our food produce leaving the island. By further increasing our footprint internationally, we can make a contribution to mitigating the effects of Brexit and develop our agrifood sector to realise its full potential. 

Live exports also play a vital role in providing an alternative market outlet for Irish farmers, including weanlings from the suckler herd at this time of year. It is an area that I have paid particular attention to since taking up office. Live exports for the year to date are up by over 50,000 head, or 48% compared to 2016.

I remain actively committed to ensuring that Irish beef producers have the option of exporting to as many markets as possible, and my Department and State agencies, such as Bord Bia, continue to work to ensure that any increase from the suckler herd can deliver a viable return to the primary producer and protect the national suckler herd.   

Turning to tillage, this is a very important sector, and the Deputy will be aware of a number of measures introduced to underpin the tillage sector and promote its growth into the future.

Among these was a targeted crop loss support measure to assist growers most affected by the wet weather harvest conditions of September 2016.

In addition to the support measure for those worst affected, I also introduced the Agriculture Cashflow Support Loan Scheme, which I specifically extended to include the Tillage and Horticulture sector. I have been advised by the banks that all of the €150 million is committed and is in the process of being drawn down. I am pleased at the very positive reaction by farmers, including tillage farmers, to the Scheme, which has proved that significant demand exists for low-cost flexible finance.

As a further support to tillage farmers, I also introduced the Tillage Investment Scheme under TAMS II, which opened for online applications earlier this year. The second tranche closed on 6 October 2017.  There was a significant level of interest in investments under this measure, particularly in relation to precision equipment to improve profitability at farm level, with a total number of 490 applications received in the first tranche for the tillage sector alone. Some 450 approvals have now issued in respect of these and payments and approvals are issuing on an ongoing basis.

Additionally, a range of other supports provide vital income and investment support to both sectors including BPS, ANC, GLAS and TAMS..

Brexit Issues

 483. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed his plans to protect the Wexford fisheries industry to offset threats posed by Brexit. [43013/17]

 484. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed his plans to ensure that post-Brexit negotiations in relation to fisheries are linked with the wider trade negotiations.  [43014/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed I propose to take Questions Nos. 483 and 484 together.

Fisheries is, and will remain, a high priority for Ireland in the Brexit negotiations.  I am determined to ensure that fisheries remain high on the Brexit agenda in the EU and that the interests of Ireland's fishing communities are fully protected.  This, of course, includes communities in Wexford.

I fully agree with the Deputy’s assessment in identifying the importance of ensuring that fisheries does not become isolated from the overall negotiations. This will be a key factor in protecting the interests of our fishing industry in the months and years ahead. I am glad to say that Michel Barnier has fully agreed with this assessment and other directly impacted Member States are expressing a similar position.   

Existing access arrangements and percentage shares of fish stocks have been agreed by all EU Member States, including the UK, over many years and were most recently affirmed in 2014 when the current Common Fisheries Policy came into force. I see no basis whatsoever for the kind of reordering of the current arrangements apparently sought by some in the UK.

If and when the UK finally leaves the EU, it should equally retain its current shares and entitlements.  We are not asking that they lose their rights of access to EU waters or face any reductions in their current shares and see no reason why we should lose ours.

As the Deputy will be aware, there has been an enormous amount of work on this issue in terms of analysing potential impacts for our fishing industries under the various possible scenarios since well before the UK referendum. This work has been carried out by my Department, the Marine Institute and BIM  in close cooperation with the fishing industry.

At EU level there have been, and will continue to be, regular contacts with the Barnier Taskforce, Fisheries Commissioner Vella and like-minded Member States at all levels. In all of these contacts, I have stressed the importance of a unified EU front, our determination to maintain all of our current rights and the absolute necessity to avoid and separation of fisheries issues from the wider negotiations.  

In conclusion, I would like to assure the Deputy that I will continue to work to have fisheries inextricably linked to the overall negotiations.  I will also be unequivocal in opposing any dilution of our existing EU quota shares, including protecting the benefit to Ireland of the Hague Preferences, and any limitations on our existing rights of access..

Budget 2018

 485. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed if budget 2018 will offer low-cost loans for farmers to meet their ongoing capital requirements and on-farm investment; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [43015/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed One of my priorities has been to address the impact of the volatility in the sterling exchange rate and lower commodity prices in some agriculture sectors. I see lower cost finance as an effective way of doing this and we developed the, “Agriculture Cashflow Support Loan Scheme”, with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, SBCI.

The Scheme made €150 million available to farmers at interest rates of 2.95%. Distributed and administered through AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank, the Scheme provides farmers with a low-cost, flexible source of working capital, allowing them to pay down more expensive forms of short-term debt, ensuring the ongoing financial sustainability of viable farming enterprises.

The SBCI have recently reported that, to the end of August 2017, there have been 3,920 loan draw-downs amounting to a total of €128,199,316. This is an average loan amount of €32,704. Some 57% of the loans are for terms of three years or more. The participating banks have advised that all of the remaining €150 million is committed and is in the process of being drawn down. I am pleased at the very positive reaction by farmers to the Scheme, which has proved that significant demand exists for low-cost flexible finance.

I have met with the chief executives of the participating banks to discuss this and other access to finance issues relating to the agrifood sector. I have asked the banks to respond positively to the demand that has been demonstrated by reducing interest rates and providing more flexible terms for cash-flow loans in the future.

I believe that this Scheme demonstrates the importance of lower cost and more flexible finance as a response to competitive pressures, and I hope that it will be a model for possible future measures..

Budget 2018

 486. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed if budget 2018 will meet the programme for Government commitment to increase ANC funding by €25 million; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43017/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The Areas of Natural Constraint, ANC, Scheme is a very important source of financial support for farmers across the country, paying over €200 million each year to over 95,000 farmers. The Programme for a Partnership Government provides for a commitment of a €25 million increase in funding for the Scheme in 2018.  This now falls for consideration in the context of discussions on Budget 2018.

There are a number of options in relation to how any additional funding could be allocated under the ANC.  These options range from allocating the funds as a flat increase across the current payable rates, to various forms of targeting higher payment rates for particular categories of farmers.  Any changes would require formal agreement with the European Commission via a formal amendment of the Rural Development Programme, 2014-2020.

The 2017 ANC payments commenced on 19 September and to date, €176 million has been paid to in excess of 81,500 farmers. Payments are continuing on a rolling basis as more farmers satisfy eligibility and stocking rate requirements. 

I am pleased to note that 2017 payments are ahead of where they were this time last year..

Aquaculture Licence Applications

 487. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the status of aquaculture licence applications made for Cruit Island and Carrickfinn in County Donegal; the timeframe for a final decision to be reached on both applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43019/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed A number of aquaculture licence applications for the Carrickfinn area have been determined recently and the public notification process provided for in the applicable legislation is ongoing in respect of these applications.

My Department’s records also indicate that an application in respect of the Carrickfinn area and an application in respect of Cruit Island are currently under consideration by my Department under the provisions of the 1997 Fisheries (Amendment) Act, the 1933 Foreshore Act and applicable EU legislation.

My Department is continuing to examine these applications in accordance with the legislation and full account is being taken of the engineering, scientific, environmental, legal and public policy aspects relevant to the applications.

As the licence applications are under active consideration as part of a statutory process it would not be appropriate to comment further on the matter at this time..

Beef Data and Genomics Programme

 488. Deputy John Deasy Information on John Deasy Zoom on John Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the reason persons (details supplied) have not received an increased payment under the beef genomics scheme in line with the increased number of animals and acreage as a result of a farm partnership; and if he will re-examine the case. [43024/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed An application to participate in the Beef Data and Genomics Programme, BDGP, was received from the persons named on 25 May 2015. The BDGP was approved by the Commission as an agri-environment scheme under Ireland's RDP. As with all agrienvironment schemes, payment is made on a per hectare basis.

Under the terms of the Commission approval, 2014 was specified as the reference year for the Programme and payment is calculated on the basis of the number of cows that calved in the herd in 2014. In certain very limited circumstances, 2015 could be used where 2014 did not reflect the applicant's usual farming practice, e.g. where there had been a disease outbreak.

The number of calved cows in 2014 was divided by a rate of 1.5 to determine the amount of the maximum payable area, MPA. In order to receive payment in respect of the full MPA, the applicant must have had this amount of land declared on the Single Payment Scheme, SPS, application in 2014. While 78 cows calved in this herd in 2014, the amount of land declared on the SPS application amounted to 38 hectares, and therefore the MPA for this applicant was established as being 38 hectares. While a farm partnership was entered into in 2016, which resulted in additional land being available under the partnership, it is not possible to increase the land over and above that declared in 2014. The reference number and MPA remain constant for the duration of the programme, subject to the land being retained.

It is not possible to increase the reference number or MPA during the lifetime of the BDGP..

Animal Disease Controls

 489. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed his plans to introduce a regulation making it mandatory for a declaration to accompany Connemara ponies put up for sale stating whether the animal has been tested for HWSD or not (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42196/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed Hoof Wall Separation Disease, HWSD, is caused by a genetic defect that appears to occur only in the Connemara pony breed and the carrier frequency has been estimated to be about 14.8%.  For a foal to be affected by the disease, both sire and dam must be carriers.

  The Connemara Pony Breeders Society is approved by my Department to maintain the Studbook for the breed and operate the breeding programme.

  My Department has allocated funding to the Connemara Pony Breeders Society under the Equine Infrastructures Scheme since 2015 to facilitate testing for the presence of the HWSD gene.

  The CPBS has informed me that animals which have been tested for the HWSD gene currently have the results stamped on their passports. Therefore, it is envisaged that through highlighting the disease potential buyers will make fully informed decisions when purchasing animals.

  My Department is in regular contact with the CPBS and will continue to keep this issue under review.

Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme Funding

 490. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed his plans to increase the funding in 2018 for the ANC scheme; his further plans to change the rates of payments for different types of land in line with the constraints on each type of land; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42197/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The Areas of Natural Constraint, ANC, Scheme is a very important source of financial support for farmers across the country, paying over €200 million each year to over 95,000 farmers.  The Programme for a Partnership Government provides for a commitment of a €25 million increase in funding for the Scheme in 2018.  This now falls for consideration in the context of discussions on Budget 2018.

  Any changes to the ANC scheme would require formal agreement with the European Commission via a formal amendment of the Rural Development Programme, 2014-2020.

  The 2017 ANC payments commenced on 19 September and to date, over €176 million has been paid to 81,500 farmers. Payments are continuing on a rolling basis as more farmers satisfy eligibility and stocking rate requirements.

  I am pleased to note that 2017 payments are ahead of where they were this time last year.

Agriculture Scheme Payments

 491. Deputy Eamon Scanlon Information on Eamon Scanlon Zoom on Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the position regarding 2017 ANC and BPS payments to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42215/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed An application under the 2017 Basic Payment Scheme/Areas of Natural Constraints, ANC, Scheme was received in my Department from the person named on 9 May 2017.

  Processing of the ANC application has recently been completed, and payment has issued to the nominated bank account of the person named.

  Advance payments under the 2017 Basic Payment Scheme will commence, to cleared cases, from 16 October 2017.

GLAS Data

 492. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the number of persons out of the number of approved applicants to the GLAS schemes 1, 2 and 3 that received the 85% payment and are awaiting the 15% payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42222/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed There are currently almost 37,000 active participants between GLAS 1 and 2, with approximately 13,500 further applicants approved into GLAS 3, meaning that the target set in Ireland's Rural Development Programme has been exceeded.

Despite the scale of the scheme, 99.6% of basic contract payments have been made in respect of 2015. For 2016, 98.4% of advance payments and 73% of balance payments have already been processed. The main reason for outstanding balancing payments is the failure by participants to submit their Nutrient Management Plan, NMP. This is a core scheme requirement.

As of today, there are 7,820 NMPs outstanding for 2016 balance payments.  My Department has brought this matter to the attention of GLAS participants and advisors, and I would encourage these participants to submit their NMP as soon as possible. This is a matter not just for their 2016 balancing payment but also prevents them from receiving future scheme payments..

GLAS Data

 493. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the number of persons out of the number of approved applicants to the GLAS schemes 1, 2 and 3 that are still awaiting approval; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42223/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed There are currently almost 37,000 active participants between GLAS 1 and 2, with approximately 13,500 further applicants approved into GLAS 3, meaning that the target set in Ireland's Rural Development Programme has been exceeded.

Despite the scale of the scheme, 99.6% of basic contract payments have been made in respect of 2015. For 2016, 98.4% of advance payments and 73% of balance payments have already been processed. The main reason for outstanding balancing payments is the failure by participants to submit their Nutrient Management Plan, NMP. This is a core scheme requirement.

As of today, there are 7,820 NMPs outstanding for 2016 balance payments.  My Department has brought this matter to the attention of GLAS participants and advisors, and I would encourage these participants to submit their NMP as soon as possible. This is a matter not just for their 2016 balancing payment but also prevents them from receiving future scheme payments..

Agriculture Scheme Appeals

 494. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the status of a review in the case of a person (details supplied); and the timeframe for its completion. [42241/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The Agriculture Appeals Office is independent in the performance of its functions.

  The Office has confirmed that a request for a review of the Appeals Officer's decision was submitted to the Director of Agriculture Appeals.

  It is anticipated that the review of the case concerned will be completed shortly.

Sheep Welfare Scheme Funding

 495. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed if a €5 million top-up to the Sheep Welfare Scheme will be applied from 2018 onwards; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42275/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed In December 2016, I introduced the Sheep Welfare Scheme to contribute to the continuing viability and sustainability of the sheep sector in Ireland. The Scheme complements the range of other supports available to sheep farmers under schemes such as the Basic Payment Scheme, GLAS, TAMS, Knowledge Transfer and the Areas of Natural Constraint scheme.

The details of the Sheep Welfare Scheme, including the amount of payment to participants, were approved by the European Commission in 2016.  The payment rates are based on the agreed costings underlying the actions to be undertaken in the scheme, and an increase in the funding allocated would thus require changes to the actions currently being undertaken by farmers, or the addition of new actions.  Any such changes to the details of the scheme would require the agreement of the European Commission via the formal Rural Development Programme amendment process. Advance payments under the first year of the Sheep Welfare Scheme are due to commence issuing later this year..

Beef Data and Genomics Programme

 496. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the payments made by his Department for the beef data genomic scheme nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42276/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The Beef Data & Genomics Programme, BDGP, was introduced in 2015 to build on and expand breeding data gathered under the Beef Data Programme 2013 and 2014 and the Beef Genomics Scheme 2014. BDGP is approved under article 28 of Regulation 1305/2013 on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. The Programme runs for six years from 2015-2020.

  The objectives of the BDGP are:

  - To help lower the intensity of Greenhouse Gas emissions by improving the quality and efficiency of the national beef herd;

  - To improve the genetic merit of the national beef herd through the collection of data and genotypes of selected animals which will allow for the application of genomic selection in the beef herd.

  Payments under The Beef Data and Genomics Programme for the Programme years 2015 and 2016 have commenced in December 2015 and December 2016, respectively, with payments continuing to issue as applicants become compliant.

  The BDGP re-launched earlier this year running from 2017-2022, with payments for both tranches scheduled to commence in December 2017.

  The information requested by the Deputy is outlined below: 

2015 Herds Amount Paid
CARLOW 329 €804,310.68
CAVAN 1,189 €2,013,071.03
CLARE 1,829 €3,383,137.59
CORK 1,727 €3,184,745.82
DONEGAL 1,353 €1,693,718.73
DUBLIN 56 €117,854.95
GALWAY 2,610 €4,250,674.25
KERRY 1,314 €1,948,875.89
KILDARE 308 €756,959.82
KILKENNY 599 €1,615,207.25
LAOIS 592 €1,473,983.09
LEITRIM 923 €1,103,071.63
LIMERICK 801 €1,506,432.24
LONGFORD 631 €1,193,186.50
LOUTH 224 €447,404.56
MAYO 2,249 €3,066,812.25
MEATH 577 €1,415,455.07
MONAGHAN 834 €1,310,626.08
OFFALY 587 €1,437,110.72
ROSCOMMON 1,357 €2,249,398.59
SLIGO 937 €1,329,349.32
TIPPERARY 1,001 €2,468,211.46
WATERFORD 358 €1,065,727.83
WESTMEATH 732 €1,661,485.60
WEXFORD 589 €1,563,047.03
WICKLOW 399 €978,423.56
Total 24105 €44,038,281.54


2016 Herds Amount Paid
CARLOW 306 €757,441.98
CAVAN 1,115 €1,931,567.77
CLARE 1,763 €3,285,312.12
CORK 1,642 €3,075,776.63
DONEGAL 1,281 €1,612,997.46
DUBLIN 55 €119,662.20
GALWAY 2,464 €4,097,548.01
KERRY 1,236 €1,885,610.91
KILDARE 290 €727,676.96
KILKENNY 561 €1,555,795.31
LAOIS 568 €1,438,775.55
LEITRIM 891 €1,078,198.89
LIMERICK 740 €1,429,272.99
LONGFORD 597 €1,163,982.84
LOUTH 212 €427,259.59
MAYO 2,122 €2,968,835.35
MEATH 544 €1,368,780.44
MONAGHAN 787 €1,256,660.28
OFFALY 551 €1,371,763.32
ROSCOMMON 1,287 €2,165,966.78
SLIGO 904 €1,295,637.51
TIPPERARY 950 €2,385,464.29
WATERFORD 337 €1,019,400.06
WESTMEATH 680 €1,570,993.61
WEXFORD 548 €1,482,552.46
WICKLOW 371 €919,251.29
Total 22802 €42,392,184.60

Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme Payments

 497. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed if he has given consideration to reinstating the ANC payment to 2008 levels to better support farmers who work in the most difficult conditions; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42278/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed Under the EU Rural Development Regulation, each Member State may designate areas eligible for payments under the Areas of Natural Constraints, ANC, scheme.  In 2015, the ANC scheme replaced the Disadvantages Areas Scheme, DAS.  Current payments are based on a range of socio-economic factors and are made on three separate land designations.

The Rural Development Regulation also sets out that, in future, all eligible disadvantaged areas must be designated using a set list of bio-physical criteria such as soil moisture, soil drainage, soil texture, slope. My Department has commenced work on this project, and relevant technical experts are currently working on sourcing and analysing the data in relation to the new criteria.  This analysis will identify areas deemed to be facing natural constraints, which will in parallel be subjected to a refinement process. The timing for the introduction of this new designation is dependent on the outcome of current discussions at EU level in relation to the, "Omnibus Proposal".

The Programme for a Partnership Government includes a commitment to increase the budget for the Scheme by €25 million in Budget 2018.  This commitment will be considered via the annual budgetary process and my Department is committed to ensuring that all available funds under the scheme are targeted in the most effective manner..

Lobbying Data

 498. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the number of occasions on which he has been lobbied in respect of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill since March 2016; the persons he has met with; the dates of these meetings; the details of the basis of the lobbying; his views on the issues raised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42283/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed Under the Regulation of Lobbying Act, 2015, persons who fall within the scope of the Act who communicate with Designated Public Officials about relevant matters must register and submit returns of lobbying activity.

  Details of the lobbying activity referred to by the Deputy can be accessed on the Register of Lobbying maintained under the Act by the Standards in Public Office Commission on: www.lobbying.ie.

Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme Payments

 499. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed his plans to restore areas of natural constraint payments to 2008 levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42353/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed Under the EU Rural Development Regulation, each Member State may designate areas eligible for payments under the Areas of Natural Constraints, ANC, scheme.  In 2015, the ANC scheme replaced the Disadvantages Areas Scheme, DAS.  Current payments are based on a range of socio-economic factors and are made on three separate land designations.

The Rural Development Regulation also sets out that, in future, all eligible disadvantaged areas must be designated using a set list of bio-physical criteria such as soil moisture, soil drainage, soil texture, slope. My Department has commenced work on this project, and relevant technical experts are currently working on sourcing and analysing the data in relation to the new criteria.  This analysis will identify areas deemed to be facing natural constraints, which will in parallel be subjected to a refinement process. The timing for the introduction of this new designation is dependent on the outcome of current discussions at EU level in relation to the, "Omnibus Proposal".

The Programme for a Partnership Government includes a commitment to increase the budget for the Scheme by €25 million in Budget 2018.  This commitment will be considered via the annual budgetary process and my Department is committed to ensuring that all available funds under the scheme are targeted in the most effective manner..


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