Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 129 to 137
 Header Item Agriculture Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments
 Header Item Dairy Equipment Scheme Applications
 Header Item Common Agricultural Policy Reform
 Header Item Common Agricultural Policy Reform
 Header Item Common Fisheries Policy Reform
 Header Item Agrifood Sector
 Header Item Trade Agreements
 Header Item Laboratory Facilities

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 844 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 75 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 129 to 137

Agriculture Scheme Eligibility

 129. 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 the supports available to farmers who are aged under 40 years and who have already been actively farming for three years or longer; the reason this category of farmer will not qualify for the 60% rate of grant aid for on-farm investment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26482/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Under the terms of the EU legislation governing the 2014-2020 Rural Development Programme, the enhanced 60 per cent grant-aid for on-farm investment may only be paid to young farmers who meet certain conditions, including the requirement that they have been set-up in farming within a period of five years from the date of application of support. It is quite conceivable, therefore, that many of the young farmers described by the Deputy could qualify for the enhanced rate of aid.

Where young farmers do not meet the conditions laid down for the enhanced grant scheme, such farmers will be eligible to apply for grants at a standard rate under the other on-farm investment schemes which are made available under the new Programme.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments

 130. 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 payment of AEOS will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26496/14]

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 Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS 3) with effect from 1st   May 2013.

  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, have to be completed before any payment can issue. During these checks a query arose in respect of land parcels declared as Natura. This is being dealt with by my Department at present and, the application will be processed with a view to making payment in respect of 2013 at the earliest opportunity.

Dairy Equipment Scheme Applications

 131. Deputy Martin Heydon Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the application process and eligibility criteria for grants available for dairy farmers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26498/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Final decisions have not yet been taken in relation to the application process or eligibility criteria which will be applicable under the proposed new Dairy Equipment Scheme in TAMS II. I can confirm, however, that the new Scheme will be extended to farmers who do not have milk quota at the time of application.    

Common Agricultural Policy Reform

 132. 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 the extent to which he has continued to have discussions with the farming organisations and others regarding the redistribution of benefits accruing from the Common Agricultural Policy reform; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26523/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Subsequent to the agreement reached at EU Council on 26 June 2013, my Department entered into a comprehensive process of consultation with the farming community and farming organisations in the summer of 2013. Detailed submissions were received from a wide variety of groups and individuals including the main farming representative bodies, a number of regional groups and from individual farmers. The results of this process were collated and formed part of the Department’s decision making process.

All of the major decisions relating to the shape of the reformed system of direct payments in Ireland have now been taken and my Department has moved to the very significant task of implementing the new scheme. The model of convergence that will be applied in Ireland, while initially retaining the link with current payments under the Single Payment Scheme, gradually moves all farmers towards a national average value. The purpose of this model is to achieve a phased redistribution of payments between those who currently hold high value entitlements and those who hold low value entitlements. A further targeting of funds will be achieved through the implementation of the Young Farmers Scheme and the National Reserve.

The Department has undertaken a comprehensive programme of information dissemination through a series of farmers’ meetings, the provision of training to Teagasc and agricultural consultants, the establishment of a CAP Information Centre and in the production of a farmers’ booklet ‘CAP 2015: An Introduction to Direct Payments’.

Ongoing discussion with the various farming organisations regarding a wide variety of issues remains a constant feature of the work of my Department.

Common Agricultural Policy Reform

 133. 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 outline any particularly sensitive issue arising in relation to revised farm support payments emanating from the Common Agricultural Policy reform; the extent to which he expects to reach agreement in regard to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [26524/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The core issue arising from the reform of the Direct Payments related to the redistribution of available funds between those who historically held high value entitlements and those who held low value entitlements. This issue has been resolved in a fair and equitable manner through the development of the ‘Internal Convergence Model’ which has been widely advertised and explained.

However, in the case of direct payments, the new Direct Payment Regulation provides for significant benefits to persons who meet the definition of ‘young farmer’ both in terms of eligibility under the National Reserve and in participation in the Young Farmers Scheme. I am very conscious of the group of young persons who were unable to avail of the Young Farmers’ Installation Scheme, due to its suspension in October 2008, and who are also excluded from the benefits of being a ‘young farmer’ under the new CAP reform due to the requirement that such farmers must have established their holding within five years of their first application under the Basic Payment Scheme. I am actively investigating alternative options of assisting this group of farmers.

Common Fisheries Policy Reform

 134. 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 the extent of the benefits accruing to the fishing industry with particular reference to those families depending on the sector arising from EU fisheries policy reform; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26525/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Ireland’s overarching goal, when negotiating the revised Common Fisheries Policy, was to ensure a sustainable, profitable and self reliant industry that protects and enhances the social and economic fabric of rural coastal communities dependent on the seafood sector, while balancing these objectives with the need to safeguard fish stocks for future generations. I strongly believe that the new CFP will achieve that goal.

A key element of the new CFP is the setting of fishing levels on the basis of the MSY Principle (Maximum Sustainable Yield). This should lead to healthy fish stocks, higher quotas for Irish fishermen and more sustainable fishing patterns.

The reform also contains a commitment to continue and further strengthen conservation measures in the biologically sensitive areas, including that off the South and West coast of Ireland (new Irish box). This commitment will also protect the livelihoods of coastal communities, including those families depending on the sector, by ensuring that fish are allowed to grow to maturity, are more plentiful and fished in an environmentally responsible manner. A new framework of Technical measures will also be introduced to avoid and minimise catches of juvenile fish.

Following months of intense lobbying and negotiation, I recently secured € 148m of EU funding for the period 2014 to 2020. This will support the fishing industry adapt to the new CFP and support development of the Irish seafood industry and the coastal communities and families that depend upon it. Ireland must now prepare a programme setting out the arrangements for spending the fund and submit this to the Commission by 20 October 2014.

My Department has been working on the new Operational Programme since 2013 and has engaged with stakeholders on a number of occasions to date. Further public consultation and strategic environmental assessment will take place over the coming months.

Agrifood Sector

 135. 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 the extent to which he expects the agrifood industry to benefit from EU reforms such as Common Agricultural Policy and the abolition of milk quotas; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [26526/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney  As I have stated previously achieving political agreement on CAP reform was a major success for the Irish Presidency of the EU Council and it provides a well-balanced package of measures for our largest indigenous industry. These measures enhance the possibility of achieving Ireland’s ambitious growth strategy for the agri food sector, as envisaged in Food Harvest 2020.

In particular the CAP Reform package established agreement on the basic share of the direct payment and on rural development reforms, which secures the production base of the Irish meat and livestock sectors. This in turn leaves farmers and other operators at the production base of the agri food sectors better positioned to both meet the competitive challenges and exploit the export opportunities of the international marketplace.

The agri-food industry is Ireland’s largest indigenous manufacturing industry. Collectively the industry is responsible for some 140,000 jobs and has an annual output of more than €20 billion, with a huge reliance on exports.

Given this importance of exports, I have consistently placed great emphasis on developing relationships in new and expanding markets for all Irish meats and dairy products in order to build the kind of confidence in Irish production and control systems that provide a platform for long-term trading relationships in the future. I am continuing to work with industry to raise the profile of the Irish agri-food sector generally.

Notwithstanding current difficulties, there is a strong demand for meat globally and my focus continues to be to enable Irish exporters to take advantage of the opportunities that arise. My Department engages on a daily basis with many countries, in collaboration with Bord Bia and Irish embassies’ personnel on market access issues. These initiatives have led to a number of notable successes in securing agreement to import from authorities in Japan, Singapore, Egypt and Iran which allow the import of Irish beef. To date in 2014, the Lebanon has agreed to re-open its market to Irish beef, sheepmeat and cooked meats. A certificate has also been agreed with Hong Kong allowing for the export of Irish sheepmeat and agreement has been reached with Namibia on a certificate for the export of beef, sheepmeat and goatmeat.

On the dairy side my Department strongly supported the decision to abolish milk quotas on the basis that quotas were widely regarded, by both the Irish dairy sector and market analysts, as a brake on the potential of the sector to respond positively to market opportunities. All indications are that the abolition of quotas next April will bring about an expansion in the sector as the industry begins, in earnest, the quest to achieve the 50% increase in production target it set for itself in Food Harvest 2020. For my part I have been working on a number of fronts to prepare the industry for the move to a quota free environment and equip it to respond to the market opportunities arising.

There is no doubt that the realisation of this increased production target will be dependent on the achievement of maximum efficiency at production and processing levels. It will require particular focus on the changes needed in milk processing, in on-farm competitiveness and in the transfer of technology and knowledge to dairy farmers. It will also require investment in R&D and in marketing. The Irish dairy sector is well placed to deliver on those objectives. Significant progress has already been made in gearing the industry up to meet the challenge of a liberalised market. At farm level my Department, in conjunction with Teagasc, has been providing support to milk producers through various measures: The Dairy Efficiency Programme has provided assistance to help improve skill sets and increase on-farm efficiency, so that they can achieve better economic returns. More enhanced Knowledge Exchange measures are being proposed under the new Rural Development Programme. The Dairy Equipment Scheme encouraged capital investment to ensure farmers are equipped to gear up for expansion and a follow on Scheme is also proposed under the new Rural Development Programme. Support for AHI and ICBF programmes to improve animal health and genetics are helping to position the milk production sector to capitalize on the market opportunities afforded by an increasing global population and expanding demand for dairy products. At processor level, the major players in the sector are currently engaged in significant capital investment and expansion to prepare themselves for the increased production. The promoters of these expansion plans are confident that the demand from emerging markets will ensure strong returns for their dairy products. Over 85% of Irish dairy production is exported and growth in global population is forecast to stimulate strong levels of demand for dairy products.

Trade Agreements

 136. 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 the extent to which he remains satisfied that trade deals negotiable by the EU, in the aftermath of Common Agricultural Policy reform, do not undermine the Irish or European food industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26527/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney    As a small open economy dependent on trade, Ireland favours ambitious and balanced trade agreements. We have a number of offensive interests in the current negotiations that are taking place with Japan, India, Vietnam, Thailand and of course the United States. Like others we have defensive interests as well. The current negotiations with MERCOSUR come to mind in that regard.

  The recent reform of the Common Agricultural Policy was a useful and progressive reform making the CAP fit for purpose to 2020. It provided farmers and the agri-food sector with policy certainty for the years to come and with strategic financial support to increase sustainability and enhance competitiveness. Against this background, we must ensure that there is proper coherence between trade and agricultural policy in the EU. I have consistently made this point to my colleagues in other EU Member States and to the Commission and I will continue to work to ensure that we engage in trade negotiations that promote the interests of the EU agricultural sector.

Laboratory Facilities

 137. 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 the extent to which the various veterinary laboratory facilities in respect of the bovine, pig, poultry, lamb and equine sectors here are adequate to meet all laboratory testing requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [26528/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The laboratory facilities at Backweston are capable of meeting the vast majority of my Department’s analytical and diagnostic requirements in relation to the bovine, pig, poultry, lamb and equine sectors. While DAFM Laboratories have the capability to carry out most of the tests in these areas, for cost efficient reasons, some low volume, highly specialised reference test methods that are periodically required are still outsourced to specialist centres. Examples of the type of tests still outsourced are the phage typing of bacteria, foot and mouth disease virus isolation, some confirmatory testing and certain toxin and residue analysis.

Amelioration works in one area, the category 4 containment laboratories, are in progress with a view to bringing that laboratory into operation. A mock up phase to check the feasibility of this project has been completed and the main works in this area are currently subject to procurement. The Category 4 laboratory will provide my Department with the additional containment facilities necessary to control the presence of exotic animal diseases that may be introduced into Ireland and is required to confirm Ireland’s existing high animal health status.


Last Updated: 24/04/2020 15:01:52 First Page Previous Page Page of 75 Next Page Last Page