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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 1338-1355
 Header Item Air Ambulance Service Provision
 Header Item Capital Programme Expenditure
 Header Item Ministerial Meetings
 Header Item Noxious Weeds
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Rural Environment Protection Scheme Payments
 Header Item Forestry Grants
 Header Item Turbary Rights
 Header Item Agriculture Schemes Penalties
 Header Item Food Labelling
 Header Item Budget 2013
 Header Item Agrifood Sector Issues
 Header Item Agri-Environment Options Scheme Conditions
 Header Item Departmental Bodies
 Header Item Departmental Bodies Expenditure

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 774 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 162 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 1338-1355

Air Ambulance Service Provision

 1338. Deputy Pat Deering Information on Patrick Deering Zoom on Patrick Deering asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the functions and areas that are covered by the new air ambulance service that is operating from Baldonnel Roger Casement Aerodrome; his plans to extend this service; if he will confirm that this service is also available for emergency situations that may arise in Dublin city centre and particularly in Dublin West; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [39277/12]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter A twelve-month pilot Emergency Aeromedical Support (EAS) service was established by agreement between my Department and the Department of Health in support of the Health Service Executive National Ambulance Service. The purpose of the pilot is to assess the level and type, if any, of dedicated EAS needed to support the National Ambulance Service in the west of Ireland for certain types of patient, particularly in light of the requirements of the HSE Clinical Care Programmes such as Acute Coronary Syndrome and Stroke. The service commenced on 4 June 2012 and it is operated by the Air Corps out of Custume Barracks, Athlone. A full evaluation of the EAS service will be undertaken by the stakeholders three months prior to the end of the pilot. There are no plans at present to extend this service.

  Question No. 1339 answered with Question No. 1308.

Capital Programme Expenditure

 1340. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will provide a list of the payments made by the State to private landowners in 2010 and 2011 to acquire land for use in the public capital programme.  [40007/12]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter No land has been acquired by my Department for use in the Capital Programme in the years in question.   

  Question No. 1341 answered with Question No. 1321.

  Question No. 1342 answered with Question No. 1308.

Ministerial Meetings

 1343. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his plans to meet with the farming organisations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36947/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Since my appointment as Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, I have met the farming organisations formally and informally on a regular basis. I meet regularly with the Presidents and Chief Executives and from time to time with the various Sectoral Committee’s, as well as attending a broad range of Agri-Food events around the country.

Noxious Weeds

 1344. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if it is true that landowners who allow noxious weeds such as ragwort to grow on their holdings are liable to penalty; the reason the same standard does not appear to apply to the National Roads Authority or local authorities which control the perimeter of the country's roads; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38062/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney My Department actively seeks to enforce the provisions of the Noxious Weeds Act 1936 by engaging with all County Councils, Local Authorities and the National Roads Authority (NRA) to ensure a consistent programme of treatment and disposal of such weeds on an ongoing basis. In this regard, all County Councils, Local Authorities and the National Roads Authority were written to in March and April of this year emphasising their statutory obligations and the importance of implementing measures for the treatment and safe disposal of ragwort .

Fines under the Noxious Weeds Act have been updated under the provisions of the Fines Act of 2010, which provides for a fine of up to €1,000 on conviction. Under the EU Single Farm Payment Scheme, farmers are obliged to keep their lands free from noxious weeds under the cross compliance measures of the Scheme. Failure to do so may result in a reduction of payment entitlements.

Departmental Expenditure

 1345. Deputy Tom Barry Information on Tom Barry Zoom on Tom Barry asked the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney in view of the fact that the net expenditure in the agricultural budget for 2012 is set at €774 million current and €168 million capital, reductions, respectively, of 7.5% and 16.8% on 2011 figures, the proportion of this expenditure that comprises EU finding; further in view of the fact that it is central to any consideration of expenditure caps that agriculture expenditure in this country involves a large contribution from Europe, if the cap on expenditure in agriculture will reflect this in view of the need for a credible environmental scheme for farming here and the need to be able to fund this given that 1,000 farmers are coming off the rural-environmental protection scheme in County Cork this year and approximately 3,000 will leave the scheme in 2013 while the agri-environmental option scheme is not attracting farmers, and those who are participating are still awaiting payments. [36967/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The 2012 gross Vote for my Department is €1,338.8m. Of this, €847.5m relates to expenditure on schemes and services that are fully funded by the Exchequer and €491.3m relates to expenditure which is eligible for EU co-funding. In addition to the Voted funds, my Department will undertake further expenditure this year amounting to about €1,284m in payments which are 100% funded by the EU. These payments relate mostly to the Single Payment Scheme.

Under Government Financial Procedures, receipts, including EU drawdowns, are shown as Appropriations-in-Aid on the Department’s Vote and are accounted for separately from expenditure. Total receipts of €323.7m are provided for in the Department’s Vote in 2012, €323.7m of which relate to the drawdown of EU co-funding. While the net Vote in 2012 is €969.2m, the level of expenditure on schemes and services is determined by the gross Vote.

The budget allocations for 2013 will be considered in the context of the gross expenditure ceilings that were allocated to all Departments for the period 2012 -2014 under the Government’s Medium Term Expenditure Framework. The Government’s decision on the expenditure ceilings was taken in order to strike a balance between needs and priorities on a multi-annual basis, to meet the requirements of the overall fiscal commitments which are firmly focused on returning the public finances to a sustainable path and to reduce the General Government Deficit by end 2015.

The preparations for the 2013 Estimate are currently underway and all budget lines on my Department’s Vote, including funding for the agri-environmental schemes, will be examined carefully as part of that process having regard to the expenditure ceilings. My intention is to ensure that the resources available to my Department are managed to provide the optimum benefit to economic activity in the agricultural, food, fisheries and forestry sectors, and to realising the potential which exists for the sectors to contribute to the economic recovery.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme Payments

 1346. Deputy Tom Barry Information on Tom Barry Zoom on Tom Barry asked the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the numbers of participants in the rural environmental schemes 1, 2, 3 & 4 and agricultural environmental options scheme for the years 2007 to 2012; and if he will clarify the amount of funds, in total, that was paid out for each of the years 2007 to 2012 under REPS 1, 2, 3 & 4 and AEOS. [36968/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney All REPS 1 participants had completed their contracts before 2007. The table below sets out the number of participants in REPS 2, 3 and 4 and the amounts paid in the period 2007 to 2012.

REPS payments from 2007 to Sept 2012

Year REPS 2 - REPS 3 - REPS 4 -
- €000s Participants €000s Participants €000s Participants
2007 29.855 4,967 280.822 41,444 - 522
2008 9.760 2,140 301.294 44,317 1.223 12,031
2009 0.346 92 240.435 33,250 96.054 28,395
2010 0.400 45 153.821 24,433 166.709 30,455
2011 0.610 66 27.362 200 229.778 30,204
2012 - - 1.172 30 56.132* 30,203*
*Expenditure to end August 2012.

  The Agri Environment Options Scheme (AEOS) commenced in 2010. In accordance with EU requirements, all applications are subject to a comprehensive administrative checking process before payments can commence. There are 8,169 active participants in the 2010 AEOS scheme. All applications that have cleared the administrative checking process have been paid. To date, a total of €6.99m has issued in respect of payments for the 2010 scheme year and a total of €26.04m has issued in the payments for the 2011 scheme year. There are 6,261 participants in AEOS 2011and payment has issued to all applicants who have cleared the administrative checking process. To date a total of €3.65m has issued to applicants in respect of payment for the 2011 scheme year. Payments under AEOS 1 and 2 in respect of 2012 will commence later this year.

Forestry Grants

 1347. Deputy Pat Breen Information on Pat Breen Zoom on Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney further to Parliamentary Question No. 528 of 12 June 2012, when payment will issue to persons (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36969/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The reply to the Parliamentary Question on 12th June 2012 indicated that the Forest Service was examining this file in line with its control checks. This examination has been completed but it showed that there has been an overpayment on the file to all the applicants who are party to this contract. The overpayment is as a result of the Forest Service determining that, instead of the 107.78 hectares originally claimed, payment was due only on 101.6 hectares. An overpayment was therefore made in respect of 6.18 hectares over and above the payable area determined by the Forest Service. On 4th   September 2012, all the applicants were informed of the details of the overpayment and of the exact amount consequently owed by each of them to the Department. They were also informed that no further payments will issue in respect of this contract until the matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of the Forest Service.

Turbary Rights

 1348. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if a decision has been made on an application for turbary rights in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36970/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The person named in the details has made an application to my Department for afforestation grants. Approval for grant aid has been refused under the Forestry Environmental Protection Scheme as insufficient land has been planted to qualify for aid under the terms of the scheme. A decision has yet to be made regarding payment of afforestation grants for the area already planted as an on the ground inspection is necessary to clarify certain issues. The inspection will be made as soon as possible. A Solicitor in my Department is in ongoing contact with a Solicitor for the person named.

Agriculture Schemes Penalties

 1349. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the position regarding a fine in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36971/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Agriculture Appeals Office received an appeal from the person named on 28th May 2012. The appeal is currently under consideration by an Appeals Officer and pending the availability of all parties concerned, arrangements will be made in the near future for an oral hearing in the case.

Food Labelling

 1350. Deputy Seamus Kirk Information on Seamus Kirk Zoom on Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will outline the timescale for the implementation of new food information regulations and the implications for the agri-food sector. [36972/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Minister for Health has overall responsibility for the general food labelling legislation and the new EU food information regulations were adopted by the Council of Health Ministers. The Food Information for the Consumer Regulation (1169/2011/ EC) extended explicit compulsory origin labelling requirements to meats other than beef, with the detailed rules to be adopted in implementing acts by 13th December 2013, following an impact assessment by the Commission. The Regulation also adopts rules on compulsory labelling where the origin or place of provenance of a food is given and where it is not the same as its primary ingredient.   In so far as meat as an ingredient is concerned, these rules are subject to the adoption of implementing acts, which must themselves take account of an impact assessment to be carried out by the Commission and reported to the European Parliament and the Council no later than 13th December 2013. It is not expected that any subsequent implementing legislation will be effective until 2014.

Budget 2013

 1351. Deputy Arthur Spring Information on Arthur Spring Zoom on Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his plans to ensure that small and medium farmers of moderate incomes will be protected in the upcoming December budget given the social importance of the agriculture sector to rural Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36974/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The 2013 Estimate for my Department will be considered within the context of the gross expenditure ceilings that were allocated to all Departments for the period 2012 -2014 under the Government’s Medium Term Expenditure Framework. The Government decision in relation to the expenditure ceilings was taken in order to strike a balance between needs and priorities on a multi-annual basis, to meet the requirements of the overall fiscal commitments which are firmly focused on returning the public finances to a sustainable path and to reduce the General Government Deficit by end 2015.

Preparations for the discussions on the 2013 Estimate are under way in the Department and all budget lines in the Vote will be examined as part of that process having regard to the funding constraints for next year. My intention is to ensure that all resources available to my Department will be managed to provide the optimum benefit to economic activity in the agricultural, food, fisheries and forestry sectors, including farm incomes, and to realising the potential which clearly exists for the sectors to contribute to the national economic recovery.

Agrifood Sector Issues

 1352. Deputy Arthur Spring Information on Arthur Spring Zoom on Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he envisages a need to further expand the nation's production of crops for export purposes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36975/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The maintenance of an efficient and viable cereals sector in Ireland is clearly very important to the well being of the agri-food industry. Indigenous production of cereals is of course, an important part of primary agriculture production. In addition to generating an income for our tillage farmers, the cereals sector is a key source of grain for the milling and malting industry and feeding stuffs for the livestock sector.   Annual cereals production in Ireland has fluctuated around 2 million tonnes in recent years and it is desirable to try and sustain this level of production in order to avoid over dependence on imported cereals. According to the CSO Cereals Supply Balance sheet Ireland had 74% self-sufficiency in cereals in 2010/2011. Imports of cereals in that period amounted to 938,000 tonnes, down 14% or 155,000 tonnes on the previous year.

  Since Ireland is a deficit market for cereals, prices here are greatly affected by world prices and supplies. In 2010, increased demands for grain from the biofuels sector and the growing needs of new emerging markets like China and India drove up world grain market prices. In line with this rise in world prices, grain prices in Ireland increased and growers here reacted by increasing the acreage sown. This resulted in a bumper harvest in 2011 with total grain production of almost 2.5m tonnes. The preliminary estimate for the 2012 grain harvest is forecast to be lower than the record harvest of 2011 due to the persistent adverse weather during the growing season.

  However, the latest Teagasc report estimates the total grain production may come in, in the region of 2.3 million tonnes, boosted by a significant increase in cereal area planted in 2011. This is somewhat above the long-term average production of 2 million tonnes but 9% lower than the 2011 harvest figure of 2.5 million tonnes, which was exceptionally high.

  My Department operates a range of services aimed at improving the efficiency of, quality and viability of cereal production. These services include seed certification, seed testing and recommended list of varieties. In addition, Teagasc provides research, training and advisory services for cereal producers. The value of all these support services is reflected in the fact that Irish cereals producers have consistently achieved some of the highest yields in the world.

  Ireland is also a significant importer of field vegetables and potato sector. Most of my Department’s efforts along with that of the State Agencies involved with the horticultural industry is mainly focused on increasing production for the domestic market. The opportunities for developing exports, with the exception perhaps in the case of potatoes, is very limited. The main reason for this is due to scale of the industry, our costs of production, competition from major suppliers around the world and the controls exercised by the supermarkets in the importing countries. Also the very difficult weather conditions over the past 5 years, including 2 very severe winters, plus the very disappointing summer weather this year, have further restricted the industry’s capacity to even think of expanding production.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Conditions

 1353. Deputy Arthur Spring Information on Arthur Spring Zoom on Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if a scheme is being devised to replace agri-environment option scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36976/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I am aware of the importance of agri environment payments to the agriculture sector and am actively considering the possibility of re-opening the Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS) to allow for the submission of new applications. I am examining the situation against the background of the strict budgetary constraints which are in place and the difficult choices which must be made in managing limited resources and competing demands. I will make an announcement as soon as I have reached a decision on the matter.

Departmental Bodies

 1354. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the number of agencies, authorities, boards, committees, working groups, tribunals, council services, task forces, agencies or other quangos set up by his Department since February 2011; the number abolished since then; the extra cost of quangos which were established; the savings from the abolition of quangos; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37238/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney My Department has neither established nor abolished any State agencies, authorities, boards, committees, working groups, tribunals, council services, task forces, agencies or other quangos since February 2011 apart from the Beef Policy 2020 Activation Group which was established in February 2011 and then dissolved in June 2011 following the presentation of its report to me.

Departmental Bodies Expenditure

 1355. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the estimated cost of each quango in his Department; the amount expected to be saved from the mergers of quangos in his Department; the basis for this figure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37254/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The most recent figures available for the annual cost of the State Bodies under the aegis of my Department which receive exchequer funding are outlined below.

Body Total amount of Central Funding for 2011
Aquaculture Licensing Appeals Board (ALAB) €300,000
Bord Bia (Irish Food Board) €34.3m
Bord Iascaigh Mhara €16.7m
Bord na gCon €11.5m
Horse Racing Ireland €45.8m
Marine Institute €24.2m
Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) €10.2m
Teagasc €132.2m


Of the State Bodies listed three were reviewed for possible abolition or merger:

1.National Milk Agency – to consider abolishing or merging with Bord Bia

2.Irish Marine Development Office – functions to be subsumed into the Marine Institute

3.Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) – to consider subsuming certain functions into this Department. (The marketing functions of BIM had been transferred to Bord Bia prior to the period in question).

  The outcomes of these reviews are currently being considered by this Department for appropriate action.


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