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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 684-708
 Header Item Food Safety Authority Inspections
 Header Item Bord na gCon Expenditure
 Header Item Control of Horses
 Header Item Coillte Teoranta Lands
 Header Item Bovine Disease Controls
 Header Item Food Safety Standards Regulation
 Header Item Food Safety Authority Inspections
 Header Item Food Safety Standards Inspections
 Header Item Agri-Environment Options Scheme Applications
 Header Item Single Payment Scheme Appeals
 Header Item Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments
 Header Item Agri-Environment Options Scheme Applications
 Header Item Capital Programme Expenditure
 Header Item Suckler Welfare Scheme Applications
 Header Item Suckler Welfare Scheme Payments
 Header Item Coillte Teoranta Lands
 Header Item Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Applications
 Header Item Agriculture Schemes Applications
 Header Item Food Labelling
 Header Item Capital Expenditure Programme
 Header Item Food Exports to Iran
 Header Item Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Applications
 Header Item Sale of State Assets
 Header Item Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments
 Header Item Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 791 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 84 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 684-708

Food Safety Authority Inspections

 684. Deputy Heather Humphreys Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if the Food Safety Authority of Ireland carry out routine checks on poultry imports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5245/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney All consignments of products of animal origin imported into Ireland from third countries are checked at a Border Inspection Post (BIP) on arrival in Ireland. There are two product BIPs in Ireland, at Dublin port and Shannon airport, operated by my Department. These enforcement activities form part of my Department’s service contract with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. Controls on imported products consist of three types of checks – documentary, identity and physical. All consignments have a documentary and identity check and a proportion of products as laid down in legislation are subject to physical checks. Other appropriate checks apply in cases where it is suspected that legislation has not been complied with or there is some other doubt about the consignment.

EU law provides for the free movement of goods between Member States. On that basis, meat and meat products produced in an establishment which is approved under relevant regulation can be moved freely within the EU. The onus of compliance with EU food safety regulations, including traceability requirements, rests in the first instance with food business operators. Food business operators in Ireland are responsible for carrying out checks to ensure that their ingredients come from approved plants. In meat plants that operate under the supervision of my Department my officials conduct audits on these checks to verify their effectiveness.

An annual audit of imported products is carried out in each Department approved meat plant. The audit includes physical identity, labelling and documentary checks. This includes product originating both in EU Member States and third countries. In addition, labelling and documentary checks form part of the routine checks conducted by Department officials. The Department maintains a permanent presence in approved slaughter plants. Regular visits are made to other Department approved meat plants. The frequency of these visits is determined by an annual risk assessment which is conducted for each plant.

Bord na gCon Expenditure

 685. Deputy Eoghan Murphy Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the amount the State subsidy to the Irish Greyhound Board is worth; the person who oversees its spend; what it is designated for; if it is performance linked; and his views on whether the allocation is value for money.  [5282/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Bord na gCon is a commercial state body, established on 28 May 1958 under the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958, chiefly to control greyhound racing and to improve and develop the greyhound industry. The Board has wide powers to regulate all aspects of greyhound racing in the Republic of Ireland.

  The Board of Bord na gCon, comprising of seven members - a Chairman and six ordinary members, is responsible for leading and directing the activities of the organisation. Bord na gCon is required to act in accordance with it’s statutory obligations, the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies and any other directives issued by Government or by my Department. The Board is obliged to produce the annual report and accounts of Bord na gCon in accordance with legislation, in addition the Chairman of Bord na gCon provides me with a separate comprehensive report covering the Group in accordance with the requirements set out in the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies. Officials from my Department meet with Bord na gCon bi-annually to consider issues of mutual interest. Bord na gCon is audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General. It also has an Internal Auditor and an Internal Audit Committee.

  Bord na gCon has estimated approximately 10,500 people derive employment, directly and indirectly, from the greyhound industry in Ireland and the industry’s contribution to the economy is estimated to be in excess of €500m.

  Government support for the horse and greyhound racing industries is provided under the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund (the Fund), which was established under Section 12 of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Act, 2001 (the Act). The Fund indirectly supports the greyhound breeding and training industry which generates very substantial economic activity and makes a vital contribution to the rural economy including farm incomes. The industry attracts significant inward investment into the country. The funding has also contributed significantly to an investment program which has delivered the improved facilities now available at greyhound tracks around Ireland. Bord na gCon received €11.26m from the Fund in 2012 and is due to receive €11m from the Fund in 2013. This represents 28% reduction since 2008.

  BNG is funded, principally, by:

-a turnover charge on the on-course bookmaker betting;

-a percentage deduction from totalisator pools (BNG operates Tote facilities at all greyhound tracks in the State);

-gate receipts, programme sales and catering income;

-Exchequer funding (the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund).

BNG applies it’s income in the following ways:

-Organisation and administration of the industry, including a system of regulation;

-Operation of a national drug testing laboratory;

-Supplementing prize money at all levels of greyhound racing;

-Providing development loans and grants to greyhound tracks in order to enable them to improve their facilities;

-Advertising and marketing the industry on both a national and international level;

-Developing and improving greyhound stadiums nationwide.

Control of Horses

 686. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if his attention has been drawn to the problem of up to 100 horses roaming in commonage areas and public roads in the Cooley Mountains in County Louth; if steps have been taken to deal with the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [5468/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Control of Horses Act, 1996 provides extensive powers to local authorities, including powers for the enactment of bye-laws for the control and welfare of horses in the local authorities’ functional area. My Department provides financial support to local authorities to assist their work in implementing the Act. Louth County Council has made bye-laws declaring the Cooley commonage a "control area" where all horses need to be micro-chipped and licensed. Officials from my Department are liaising with local authority officials in Louth to underline how implementation of the Control of Horses Act, together with legislation governing equine identification, can assist with controlling horses, particularly with regard to horses that are straying and or abandoned so as to prevent injury or nuisance to persons or damage to property.

Coillte Teoranta Lands

 687. 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 his views on maintaining State owned forests (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5594/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Coillte Teoranta was established as a private commercial company under the Forestry Act 1988, in accordance with which the bulk of the State’s forestry estate was vested in the company upon its establishment in 1989. Day-to-day operational matters, such as the maintenance of the forest estate including its internal forest road network, are the responsibility of the company. It should be noted that Coillte has a significant annual capital investment programme each year. The Coillte Annual Report for 2011, for example, states that, in 2011, the company invested €34.5 million in planting 5,641 hectares, renewing and reforesting existing estate and building and upgrading 375 km of forest roads.

Bovine Disease Controls

 688. Deputy Charles Flanagan Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the reason a person (details supplied) in County Laois was subjected to an order under Article 12 of the Bovine Tuberculosis (Attestation of the State and General Provision) Order 1989, from 21 August to 20 November 2012, which is an inordinate and lengthy period for such an order to remain in force; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [5104/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The herd in question was restricted under Article 12 of the Bovine Tuberculosis (Attestation of the State and General Provision) Order, 1989 Notice declaring a holding a restricted holding (ER22) on 21 August 2012 following the disclosure of a suspect TB lesion in animal IE221308860137 presented by the above herdowner for slaughter on 15 August. A TB tissue test for this animal was created in the laboratory on 21 August 2012 and an inconclusive result was reported on 2 November 2012.

A herd test was listed on 7 November 2012 and completed on 15 November 2012 with a negative result. The herd was derestricted on 15 November 2012.

The laboratory procedure normally takes a minimum of 8 weeks to determine a negative result, although positive results may be available within a shorter timeframe.

Food Safety Standards Regulation

 689. 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 Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the number of horses slaughtered at Irish meat plants for each year over the past five years; if he will confirm the destination of the horsemeat from each plant and if it was destined for the human food chain; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [5106/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney All slaughterhouses whose meat is destined for human consumption require approval under EU food safety regulations, generally referred to as the 'Hygiene Package'. These are implemented in Ireland under the European Communities (Food and Feed Hygiene) Regulations 2009, S.I. No 432 of 2009. Approval to operate may be granted either by the relevant local authority or by my Department. The onus of compliance with EU food safety regulation rests in the first instance with food business operators. This is subject to a series of official controls, which are the responsibility of the competent authorities in the Member State concerned.

  The number of horses slaughtered in plants approved by my Department in each of the years since 2008 was as follows:

  2008 – 2,002;

  2009 – 3,220;

  2010 – 7,296;

  2011 – 12,575;

  2012 – 11,402.

  I understand from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland that the following numbers of horses were slaughtered in local authority approved slaughter plants:

  2008 – 44*;

  2009 – 1,027;

  2010 – 2,494;

  2011 – 4,985;

2012 – 12,960.   

  (* Included in miscellaneous category, total 44)

  Under EU single market rules, meat products from EU approved plants can be traded freely within the Community. I understand that the bulk of the horse meat produced here is destined for customers in Belgium, France and Italy.

Food Safety Authority Inspections

 690. 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 Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the range and frequency of tests carried out at each Irish meat plant for the adulteration of food destined for human consumption over the past year; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [5107/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Under EU law primary responsibility for the safety of food placed on the market place lies with food business operators. The role of my Department is to verify compliance by the food business operators with this requirement. This is done by a combination of inspection of establishments and by audit on the food safety management systems which operators are required to have in place. These controls are applied at different stages in the food supply chain.   It is important to point out that the key controls carried out by my Department, under its contract with the FSAI, relate to food safety.

  My Department has a permanent veterinary presence at all its approved slaughter plants. Controls at stand alone secondary processing plants are carried out at a frequency which is based on an annual risk assessment for each plant.

  An annual audit of imported products is carried out in each Department approved meat plant. The audit includes physical identity, labelling and documentary checks. This includes product originating both in EU Member States and third countries. In addition, labelling and documentary checks form part of the routine checks conducted by Department officials.

  Under the Department’s National Residue Programme, and including tests on bovine samples carried out by processors, some 30,000 samples taken at farm and factory level and covering a wide range of food stuffs are tested annually. These tests relate to microbiological and chemical standards, their primary focus being on food safety. These are fully in accordance with EU testing requirements.

  In addition the Product Official Sampling and Testing (POST) programme is a microbiological testing programme on samples taken from Department approved ready-to-eat food, meat product, minced meat and meat preparation plants i.e. added value plants. This is part of the official verification of food safety controls in the plants concerned as provided for in Regulations (EC) 852/2004, 854/2004 and 2073/2005. A total of 1,600 samples are taken annually and the sampling and testing is risk based.

  DNA testing is not required under EU legislation and is not generally in use in relation to food production. It has however been deployed in recent times as part of the FSAI’s checks on food authenticity and food fraud control programmes. In that respect it is another new layer to our food production controls.

Food Safety Standards Inspections

 691. 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 Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the reason that inspection levels have been reduced at meat plants; if he will state the level and number of inspections for each of the past three years 2010, 2011 and 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [5108/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney My Department maintains a permanent supervisory presence in approved slaughter plants. Regular visits are made to other Department approved meat plants. The frequency of these inspections in plants other than slaughter plants, which focus primarily on food safety requirements, is determined by an annual risk assessment which is conducted for each plant.

  Details of the number of inspections at Department approved meat plants (non-slaughter establishments) in the past 3 years are set out in the following table:

Year No. of inspections
2010 8,924
2011 7,189
2012 5,963


  It is important to understand that the Department has been able to reduce the number of inspections at non-slaughter meat plants, where there is no permanent supervisory presence, by moving to a more robust and rigorous targeted system of inspections, based on the risk assessments mentioned above.

  The onus of compliance with EU food safety regulations, including traceability requirements, rests in the first instance with food business operators. Food business operators in Ireland are responsible inter alia for carrying out checks to ensure that their ingredients come from approved plants. In meat plants that operate under the supervision of the Department, officials conduct audits on these checks to verify their effectiveness. An annual audit of imported products is carried out in each Department approved meat plant. The audit includes physical identity, labelling and documentary checks. This includes product originating both in EU Member States and third countries. Labelling and documentary checks also form part of the routine checks conducted by Department officials.

  Under the Department's National Residue Programme, and including tests on bovine samples carried out by processors, some 30,000 samples taken at farm and factory level and covering a wide range of food stuffs are tested annually. These tests relate to microbiological and chemical standards, their primary focus being on food safety. These are fully in accordance with EU testing requirements.

  In addition the Product Official Sampling and Testing (POST) programme is a microbiological testing programme on samples taken from Department approved ready-to-eat food, meat product, minced meat and meat preparation plants i.e. added value plants. This is part of the official verification of food safety controls in the plants concerned as provided for in Regulations (EC) 852/2004, 854/2004 and 2073/2005. A total of 1,600 samples are taken annually and the sampling and testing is risk based.

  DNA testing is not required under EU legislation and is not generally in use in relation to food production. It has however been deployed in recent times as part of the FSAI's checks on food authenticity and food fraud control programmes. In that respect it is another new layer to our food production controls.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Applications

 692. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon will receive an agri environment options scheme payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5116/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney An AEOS 3 application was received in the Johnstown Castle Office of my Department from the person named on 14 November 2012.

The initial processing of the applications has been completed and acknowledgement letters will shortly issue to all applicants. Following that the detailed actions listed in each application will be recorded and all applications will be ranked and selected according to the predetermined selection criteria. This process is expected to take several weeks and letters will issue to all applicants informing them of the outcome of the selection process in due course.

Single Payment Scheme Appeals

 693. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Information on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Zoom on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if a decision on an appeal has been processed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5123/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney With regard to the Single Payment Scheme, I can confirm that the person named currently has two appeals ongoing with the Agriculture Appeals Office and has taken the option of an oral hearing. It will be appreciated that, as that Office as a body is statutorily independent of my Department, the outcome of their deliberations must be awaited.

As regards the 2010 Suckler Welfare Scheme, the person named registered 32 animals. The events information submitted indicated that all animals were weaned on 22 October 2010. Under the Terms and Conditions of the Scheme, for herds of more than 10 cows, animals must be weaned in at least 2 separate groups with a minimum interval of 5 days between the removal of the first and last group. The applicant was also deemed ineligible to continue in the Scheme as he did not attend any of the mandatory Training Courses provided for Suckler Welfare applicants.

The applicant was successful at appeal stage for both the weaning and training issues on the basis of further information provided. Following validation, payment issued in respect of thirty animals on 14 November 2012. Errors were identified with the two remaining animals and a letter issued on 30 January 2013 in relation to these animals. Payment cannot be further progressed for these animals until the outstanding issues are resolved.

The applicant registered 13 animals under the 2011 Suckler Welfare Scheme. Payment issued in respect of 12 of these animals on 12 November 2012. A query relating to the remaining animal has since been resolved and payment will issue in the near future.

Only one animal has been registered to date for the 2012 Suckler Welfare Scheme. This animal cannot be considered for payment until the required information is received.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments

 694. 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 Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when payment under the agri-environment options scheme 1 will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Galway; the reason for the delay in issuing payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [5125/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The person named was approved for participation in the 2011 Agri-Environment Options Scheme with effect from the 1 September 2011.

Under the EU Regulations governing the Scheme and other area-based payment schemes, a comprehensive administrative check, including cross-checks with the Land Parcel Identification System, must be completed before any payment can issue. During these checks issues were identified in relation to the claimed areas on the Species Rich Grassland action which will result in a penalty being applied. Officials in my Department are finalising the application of the person named on this basis and arrangements are being made to issue payment as soon as possible.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Applications

 695. 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 Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the reason a person (details supplied) in County Galway was informed their agri environment options scheme payment will not be issued until the end of March due to a small issue that arose on inspection; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5126/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney  The person named was approved for participation in the 2011 Agri-Environment Options Scheme with effect from 1 September 2011 and has received full payment totalling €1,333.32 in respect of 2011.

Under the EU Regulations governing the Scheme, a comprehensive administrative check of all applications, including cross-checks with the Land Parcel Identification System, must be completed before any payment can issue. During these checks a query was identified in relation to the claimed areas on the Natura owned parcel. Officials in my Department are finalising the application of the person named with the intention of issuing payment for 2012 as soon as possible.

Capital Programme Expenditure

 696. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will provide a breakdown of the €30 million of capital funding spent by his Department during December; the reason 18% of his Department's overall capital spend was held until December; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [5130/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The total capital expenditure by my Department in December 2012 amounted to €27.515million which is equivalent to 14% of the total capital budget for the year.

  A breakdown of the capital expenditure in December 2012 is as follows:

Projects Price
Administrative Budget, including laboratories €0.975m.
Forestry €4.158m.
On farm investment €4.593m.
Food processing sector €7.496m.
Fisheries sector, including harbours €8.210m.
Horse and Greyhound Fund €0.380m.
Livestock & Equine sector €1.001m.
Haulbowline Remediation €0.702m.


  As indicated in the data, a high proportion of the capital expenditure takes the form of payment of grant aid on projects which have been approved under various grant schemes, e.g. on-farm investment, afforestation, food processing, fishery harbours. Payments are made by the Department as quickly as possible on completion of the projects concerned and submission by the promoters of documented claims. Grant applications and the eventual payments in respect of completed projects are demand led and, accordingly, the pattern of payments over the course of the year is outside of the Department's control.

Suckler Welfare Scheme Applications

 697. 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 when suckler calf premium 2011 and 2012 payments will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [5154/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The person named registered 12 animals for the 2011 Suckler Welfare Scheme and 13 animals for the 2012 Scheme. Following the validation process, it appeared that the animals were not weaned in accordance with the Terms and Conditions of the Scheme for either year. This issue has since been resolved for some of the animals and payment has been approved for 8 animals in each year. The remaining animals remain ineligible in regard to the weaning requirement of this Scheme and a 1% penalty will be applied to the payments each year as a result of this non-compliance.

In addition, there has been a change to the ownership of this herd in 2012 and letters have issued from my Department on 31 January 2013 in relation to this matter. Payment cannot issue until the relevant forms regarding the change of ownership have been completed and are found to be in order.

Suckler Welfare Scheme Payments

 698. 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 when suckler calf premium 2012 payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5155/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The person named registered 10 animals for the 2012 Suckler Welfare Scheme. Payments for the 2012 Scheme commenced in December 2012 but all of the required information had not been received from the applicant at that time. Further information has now been received and, subject to confirmation that all of the requirements of the Scheme have been complied with, payment will issue in the near future.

Coillte Teoranta Lands

 699. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will confirm that existing public amenities available at Donadea Forest Park, County Kildare, will continue to remain available to the public in the aftermath of any sale of harvesting rights at the forest; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5189/13]

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 Donadea Forest Park as a recreational amenity in North Kildare. With reference to the Government decision, in the context of the asset disposal programme, that a concession for the harvesting rights to Coillte’s forests be put forward for sale, substantial work has been undertaken to date on the identification of the forestry assets involved, the determination of their value and the consideration of a number of issues associated with the proposed sale of the harvesting rights. Public access to recreational land is one of the issues so identified which requires detailed consideration. The outcome of the overall analysis will be considered by the Government upon its conclusion and no decision has been taken, as yet. I wish to assure the Deputy that any sale will take account of public access to recreational land.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Applications

 700. 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 Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when payment under the disadvantaged areas scheme for 2012 will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; the reason for the delay in issuing payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [5200/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The person named is one of a number whose Disadvantaged Areas Scheme application were impacted by a requirement of a minimum stocking density of 0.3 livestock units per forage hectare in 2011 and who applied for and were granted derogation in this regard in December 2012. However, payment has not yet issued as an overclaim has been identified on one of the land parcels declared. The applicant has been written to regarding this matter and, on receipt of a reply, the application will be further processed.

Agriculture Schemes Applications

 701. 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 position regarding an application with the national reserve in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [5202/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The person named submitted an application for consideration of an allocation of entitlements under the New Entrant category of the 2012 National Reserve.

  This category caters for farmers who commenced farming after 17 May 2010. Successful applicants under this category are required to meet certain criteria in relation to income limits and educational qualifications.

  This application can be further processed when outstanding documentary evidence which has been requested is submitted.

Food Labelling

 702. Deputy Patrick Nulty Information on Patrick Nulty Zoom on Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the steps he will take to ensure the better packaging and labelling of meat products sold here; if he will ensure that meat products marked Irish made or produced contain meat that is 100% reared, slaughtered and processed here; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [5263/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Rules on the labelling of meat and meat products are laid down in EU legislation. For beef, the current rules require compulsory origin labelling, with place of birth, rearing and slaughter specified.

In 2011 a new Food Information for the Consumer Regulation (1169/2011/ EC) provided a framework for extending explicit compulsory origin labelling requirements to meats other than beef, with the detailed rules to be adopted in implementing acts by 13 December 2013, following an impact assessment by the Commission. The Department of Health (DOH) is the lead department on labelling, but, my Department has played an important role in ensuring that Ireland was a strong proponent of extending compulsory origin labelling requirements to meats other than beef.

  Under current rules the origin of processed products which undergo a "substantial transformation" may be regarded as the country in which that processing activity took place.

The Food Information for the Consumer Regulation also provides a framework for adopting rules on compulsory labelling where the origin or place of provenance of a food is given and where it is not the same as that of its primary ingredient. The Commission is currently conducting an impact assessment, and detailed rules are to be adopted in implementing acts by the end of this year. It is intended that the legislation will come into effect   in 2014.

  As the Deputy will be aware, the free movement of goods within the European Union provides that once goods (including meat) are produced in approved establishments in a Member State, which are under the supervision of authorities in that Member State, those goods are free to move within the Union without further official checks at borders within the Union. It would of course be entirely inconsistent with Single Market rules for a State to oblige processors to obtain raw materials from particular member states, and the application of such strictures to processors in other member states could potentially have an extremely detrimental effect on the agri-food industry in Ireland.

  The principle underpinning the Single Market, which is a critical success factor for the agri food and other sectors in an export oriented economy like Ireland’s, is that horizontal public health and hygiene standards apply across the European Union and that each member state is responsible for ensuring that approved food premises within its jurisdiction comply with the relevant EU regulations. This system operates on the basis of a common application of the rules by veterinary authorities across the European Union, and is overseen by the Irish based European Food and Veterinary Office, which also conducts audits and inspections to ensure that the system is functioning correctly.

  On the other hand, meat products imported from outside the EU must come from plants approved under the European Union veterinary inspection regime and having equivalent standards as that within the EU. Meat products entering the EU from a third country are subject to documentary, identity and (if considered necessary) physical checks to ensure compliance with the requirements.

  My Department’s Veterinary Inspectors conduct audits on approved premises in Ireland. Audits on imported meat include physical identity, labelling and documentary checks. This includes product originating both in EU Member States and third countries. In addition, labelling and traceability checks form part of the routine checks conducted by Department officials. The Department maintains a permanent presence in approved slaughter plants. Regular visits are made to other Department approved meat plants. The frequency of these visits is determined by an annual risk assessment which is conducted for each plant. Checks are also conducted at retail level by the HSE, working under the aegis of the FSAI which has an overarching supervisory role in relation to labelling matters.

Capital Expenditure Programme

 703. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the amount of his Department’s €187 million capital spend for 2013 that will go towards construction projects; the projects involved; the details of these projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [5268/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney A substantial proportion of the Department’s capital budget relates covers the payment of capital grants under various demand led schemes on projects which include construction work undertaken by individuals or corporate entities in the agriculture, forestry, fishery and food processing sectors. Detailed plans for capital spending under the fishery harbours development programme as well as some construction work to be undertaken by some of the State bodies under the Department’s aegis are currently being finalised and it is not possible to provide details on the final plans in this regard at this stage.

  The total capital funding to my Department for 2013 is €193 million and includes €6 million capital savings carried over from 2012. The following headings include expenditure on construction

Schemes Price
Administrative Budget; investment in Laboratories buildings and equipment €2.660m
On farm investment; investments in buildings and equipment in the dairy, sheep, pigs and poultry sectors €27.555m
Food sector; investment in buildings and food processing equipment €14.3m
Fisheries sector; investments in food processing buildings and equipment, aquaculture and fishery harbours €13.945m
Horse and Greyhound Fund €5.5m
State bodies; final investments plans are not yet available and may include expenditure on projects involving construction work.  €14.64m

Food Exports to Iran

 704. Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when he expects the minutiae of the beef deal between Ireland and Iran to be finalised and for exports to commence; and the expected economic benefits of the deal for the economy here.  [1677/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney While most of our beef exports go to EU markets, it is always beneficial to have a wide range of outlets available for our high quality food products and I am committed to ensuring that Irish operators have access to as many markets as possible worldwide.

The Iranian government lifted its ban on Irish beef last July. However before exports of beef from Ireland can take place, a bilateral Veterinary Health Certificate (VHC) must be agreed between the two countries. This VHC is effectively a guarantee that specific conditions, as stipulated by the Iranian authorities, have been met. The negotiation of bilateral veterinary health certificates is common practice with third countries and is taken very seriously by my officials. All VHCs must be signed by authorised veterinary officers in my Department and a certificate must accompany each consignment of beef.

While the Iranian veterinary requirements are in excess of those required by the EU, I am hopeful that agreement on a bilateral certificate to allow for the export of beef from Ireland to Iran will be reached in due course. However it is important to point out that ultimately the decision to permit access to markets, on terms that make a trade commercially viable, rests with the veterinary authorities in the receiving country.

It is difficult to estimate the expected economic benefits to the economy here of exports of beef to Iran, as ultimately the pattern of trade is a function of commercial choice and based on market dynamics.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Applications

 705. 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 position regarding an area aid payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [5344/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The person named is one of a number, their derogation application having been unsuccessful, who were offered the option to appeal to the independently chaired DAS Appeals Committee. To date, this option has not been availed of. Should the applicant choose to appeal, it will be referred to the Committee.

Sale of State Assets

 706. Deputy Peter Mathews Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his plans for the sale of Coillte land; the freedom of access to this land for members of the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5351/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Further to the Government decision that a concession for the harvesting rights to Coillte’s forests be considered for sale, NewERA have been actively engaged in recent months with Coillte, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and my Department to examine the financial and other implications of developing the potential of Coillte’s forest assets.

The process is at an advanced stage and, aside from the valuation of the forestry assets, a number of issues have been identified in relation to the possible harvesting rights concession. Public access to recreational land is one of the issues so identified which requires detailed consideration. The outcome of the overall analysis will be considered by the Government upon its conclusion and no decision has been taken, as yet.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments

 707. Deputy John O'Mahony Information on John O'Mahony Zoom on John O'Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney further to Parliamentary Question No. 157 of 19 December 2012, when the person (details supplied) in County Mayo receive their payment [5363/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney As indicated, a number of issues arose during the processing of this application which required resolution before the question of payment could be considered. However, in the interim and following direct contact with the applicant, outstanding issues have been resolved, thereby allowing the payment due to issue shortly.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments

 708. Deputy Timmy Dooley Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when a person (details supplied) in County Clare will receive a disadvantaged area-based payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [5369/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney While the person named submitted an application for derogation, as insufficient supporting documentation was supplied, the person named was requested to address this. As this documentation has now been received, the case has been fully processed, with payment due to shortly issue to the nominated bank account.


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