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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 509-529
 Header Item Food Imports
 Header Item Food Industry Development
 Header Item Fish Landings
 Header Item Food Safety Standards Regulation
 Header Item Dairy Sector
 Header Item Food Exports
 Header Item Food Marketing Programme
 Header Item Poultry Industry
 Header Item Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Appeals
 Header Item Departmental Staff Redeployment
 Header Item Beef Technology Adoption Programme Issues
 Header Item Agrifood Sector Issues
 Header Item Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Appeals
 Header Item Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Applications
 Header Item Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Applications
 Header Item Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Appeals
 Header Item Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments
 Header Item Parking Regulations
 Header Item Stocking Densities
 Header Item Fish Quotas
 Header Item Public Sector Allowances Payments

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 787 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 96 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 509-529

Food Imports

 509. 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 number of traceability inspections carried out by his Department in respect of pig meat, beef, lamb and poultry imports in each of the past eight years to date; the number of breaches of the regulations detected and the actions taken; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56257/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney It is not possible to provide this information in the required time. The material is being compiled and it will be forwarded it to the Deputy as soon as it is available.

Food Industry Development

 510. 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 pig meat, beef, lamb dairy and poultry sectors have grown in each of the past eight years to date, the degree to which the number of producers has fluctuated over the same period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56258/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Sectoral performance over any given time horizon is subject to a multitude of factors. These include supply and demand dynamics, exchange rate fluctuations, producer margins, variations in input costs, the macroeconomic climate generally, trading conditions in individual commodities and market opportunities arising from international agreements. In the case of the dairy sector, production is, of course, constrained by quotas.

  The relative size, importance and contribution of the various livestock sectors to the domestic economy can best be understood by reference to data on production volume taken in conjunction with export volume and value. Data on these variables for the relevant period is presented in tabular format hereunder. Full year data for 2012 is not yet available.

  Statistics in respect of producer numbers are compiled by the CSO according to standardised EU definitions in agricultural censuses which are held at decennial intervals. Table 5 below contains relevant data extracted from the two most recently published Census of Agriculture reports. Additional Department data on the number of active milk producers in each year of the period 2004 to 2011 is also provided in Table 6.

  Table 1

  Dairy Sector: Usable Dairy Production (’000 tonnes)

 
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
Butter
145
150
144
146
129
126
138
149
Cheese
118
119
137
140
175
163
172
180
Cream
20
22
22
22
22
21
21
21
Milk Powders
98
95
108
117
88
100
94
105
Drinking Milk

& Buttermilk
588
575
579
582
572
543
541
544



  Source: CSO Database – Dairy Products Supply Balance

  Table 2

  Meat Sector: Gross Indigenous Production (’000 tonnes (carcass equivalent)
 
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
Beef
578
565
597
600
552
542
596
571
Pigment
236
238
240
236
240
242
269
288
Poultry
126
127
121
113
117
112
124
128
Sheepmeat
67
70
68
63
55
51
42
40
Source: CSO Meat Supply Balance – various years  .

  Table 3

  Export Volume for Dairy & Meat Sectors (’000 tonnes)
 
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
Dairy*
670
707
770
835
789
797
801
889
Beef
504
490
520
528
489
467
519
509
Pigmeat
107
119
116
124
132
126
150
181
Poultry
75
77
75
75
77
81
93
108
Sheepmeat
53
59
57
55
48
45
40
46
Source: * CSO External Trade data (Intrastat survey); otherwise Meat   Supply Balance - various years.

  Table 4

  Export Values for Dairy & Meat Sectors (€m)
 
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011†
Dairy*
1,629
1,779
1,950
2,278
2,324
1,876
2,231
2,653
Beef
1,400
1,340
1,530
1,570
1,690
1,397
1,573
1,860
Pigmeat
265
238
250
212
341
289
336
396
Poultry**
-
-
-
-
-
183
203
210
Sheepmeat
165
189
180
174
166
164
163
191
Source:* CSO External Trade (Intrastat) data; otherwise   Bord Bia Meat Review & Outlook.

**  No Bord Bia data available before 2009. †Revised Bord Bia figures for beef, pigmeat & sheepmeat.

  Table 5

  Number of farms classified by type of farm
 
2000
2010
Specialist Tillage
4,736
4,795
Specialist Dairying
26,292
15,654
Specialist Beef Production
72,141
77,738
Specialist Sheep
12,233
13,555
Mixed Grazing Livestock
20,729
14,697
Mixed Crops & Livestock
3,644
2,443
Mixed Field Crops
N/A
9,635
Other
1,752
1,343
Total
141,527
139,860
  Source: CSO

  For analytical purposes, farms are classified in Census of Agriculture results as one of eight farm types. These types represent the primary areas of specialisation in Irish farming. They are derived from groupings applied to a detailed EU farm typology classification system and are based on the relative economic importance of the various lines of agricultural activity carried out on each farm.

  Table 6

  Active Milk Producers
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
23,767 22,386 22,042 20,190 19,681 18,930 18,295 18,297
  Source: Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Fish Landings

 511. 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 fish catches at Irish ports by Irish or foreign trawlers has fluctuated over the past eight years to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56259/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Under the Sea Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Act, 2006, operational issues concerning sea fisheries control are a matter for the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA). I have asked the SFPA to respond directly to the question.

Food Safety Standards Regulation

 512. 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 full range of testing facilities has been provided at the National Laboratories at Cellbridge County Kildare; if any samples continue to be sent overseas for testing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56260/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and the Marine (DAFM) Laboratories carry out a broad and in-depth range of laboratory tests to support DAFM’s requirements in the areas of animal health, plant health and food and feed safety. While DAFM laboratories have the capacity to carry out most of the tests to meet these requirements, for cost efficient reasons, some tests are outsourced.

  Regulatory controls relating to food safety, Feed safety, Animal Health and Welfare and Plant Health are managed within the EU in accordance with Regulation 882 of 2004. This Regulation requires that an integrated Irish multi-annual control plan be in place to ensure that these controls are carried out in the most efficient manner possible. A copy of this Multi Annual National Control Plan (MANCP), most recently submitted to the EU Commission in 2012, for the period 2012-2016 is available at "http://www.fsai.ie/about_us/service_contract_agencies.html  "

  This approach, towards the preparation and delivery of food and feed controls in Ireland, requires a high level of collaboration between DAFM and the FSAI to produce and deliver the requirements of this plan. The State Laboratories at Backweston (in the Department of Public Expenditure Review {DPER}) are part of the Irish Laboratory infrastructure that is used to deliver this plan. Due to the complexity and wide range of controls required by this plan it is not possible to provide all the required analytical services within the State. It is, therefore, still necessary to have some samples analysed in external laboratories.

  The analytical capacity of the DAFM Laboratories are under continuing review to ensure that the most appropriate laboratory capacity is in place to support the implementation of food, feed, animal health and welfare and plant health controls.

Dairy Sector

 513. 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 incomes in the dairy sector to fluctuate in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56261/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Volatility in dairy prices is caused by imbalances of supply and demand in international markets, which are cyclical in nature. Dairy farmers’ incomes are comprised of the returns they receive for their milk from processors and their EU support payments. As some 85% of Irish dairy production is exported, mostly to other EU countries, the price of milk in Ireland is ultimately determined by supply and demand on world and EU markets. Since the 2006 reduction in CAP market supports to a safety net level the milk price in the EU has become more volatile and this price fluctuation can be expected to continue.

  However, growth in global population and wealth is forecast to stimulate strong levels of demand for dairy products. Against that background, I believe that prospects and opportunities for the dairy sector will expand significantly over the coming years. From 2015, Ireland will be free to produce milk to take advantage of the increasing demand for dairy products and through the Food Harvest 2020   report the industry has set itself an ambitious target for a 50% increase in milk production by 2020. The best way to deal with market instability is to develop a competitive dairy sector that can deal with the challenges and benefit from the opportunities that a global market provides.

  A key element of this market strategy is to optimise the already positive green image of Ireland in order to create a point of differentiation for Irish dairy products on international markets. In this context, stakeholders are at present engaged, through Bord Bia, in technical discussions to establish a dairy sustainability and quality scheme, while at processing level, Bord Bia’s Origin Green Programme is providing a vehicle for industry to commit itself to sustainability targets by reducing energy inputs, minimising overall carbon footprint and mitigating the impact on the environment. This pro-active approach to environmental sustainability has a strong resonance with procurement strategists in the many multi-national food companies who are interested in using Ireland as a source of high quality food ingredients and processed products.

  The industry itself has a responsibility to focus its efforts on market and product development and to mitigate the impact of price volatility. Supported by Government, the Irish dairy sector has succeeded in positioning itself as a major international player, and in recent months we have seen industry announcements in relation to the development of supply arrangements between Irish companies and multinational players in third countries, and the development of value added products which can maximise the value of our dairy output. For my part I have been working on a number of fronts to prepare the industry for the move to a quota free environment. I have been endeavouring to raise the profile of the Irish dairy sector in third country markets, for example through trade visits to the US and China.

  At farm level my Department, in conjunction with Teagasc, has been working, through research activities and through the Dairy Efficiency Programme, to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to reduce costs on farm and improve efficiency, in order to better equip farmers to deal with volatility in dairy markets. In this context I am confident that following quota abolition, co-ops and their members will develop the kind of robust contractual arrangements which will secure supply into the future.

  Underpinning all of this, I will continue to negotiate strongly to ensure that the post 2013 CAP continues to provide effective support for Irish farmers and that market supports will remain in place to provide a safety net to protect against the worst extremes of price volatility.

  Taking all this into account, I am confident that the collaborative efforts of Government, the processing industry and milk producers will ensure a thriving and sustainable dairy sector that can use the opportunity afforded by the abolition of quotas to fully leverage the natural advantage of Ireland’s grass-based production system.   My Department and its agencies will continue to play their part in providing an appropriate framework to support the development of this critically important industry.

Food Exports

 514. 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 is satisfied regarding the competitiveness of Irish food exports on world markets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56262/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The National Competitiveness Scorecard, which benchmarks Ireland’s competitiveness against key competitors, has indicated that between April 2008 and April 2012, Ireland’s nominal Harmonised Competitiveness Index (HCI) fell by 7.6%, while the real HCI fell by almost 15.25%.

(The nominal HCI is a nominal effective exchange rate for the Irish economy that reflects, on a trade weighted basis, movements in the exchange rate vis-a vis 56 trading partners. The real HCI takes into account relative price changes along with exchange rate movements).

Food Marketing Programme

 515. 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 his plans for the future expansion of the food industry with particular reference to the establishment of new markets for Irish produce; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56263/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I have been active in developing relationships in new and expanding markets 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. In April this year I headed a trade mission to China to further develop this important relationship, and to meet my ministerial counterparts in the Agriculture and Quarantine Ministries, to help raise the profile of the Irish agri-food industry in China. A number of Chinese delegations at ministerial level have visited Ireland since then. I also visited the U.S. in June and had the opportunity to raise the important issue of beef and sheepmeat access, and discuss a range of other agri food issues, with my counterpart there during that visit.

Furthermore, I am working with industry to raise the profile of the Irish dairy sector, and the Irish agri-food sector generally, in emerging markets particularly in the Far East and North Africa. Ireland has worldwide access to markets for dairy products to markets and already exports such products to over eighty countries. .

While the great majority of our meat exports are destined for other EU member states, it is always beneficial to have a wide range of outlets available for our high quality food products. To this end my Department engages with Bord Bia and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in consultation with the industry, to secure access to more third country outlets.

In relation to meat, we reached agreements over recent years with the authorities in Tunisia, Morocco, South Africa, Turkey, Egypt and Singapore which allow for the export of Irish beef and this year, we reached agreements with Singapore and South Africa for the export of sheepmeat and with Morocco and UAE, to allow for the export of poultry meat. My Department has also hosted visits in the past few years by official delegations from Morocco (beef access), Israel (beef and sheepmeat access), Philippines (beef access), Australia (pork access), China (pork and beef access), Egypt (beef access), South Korea (pork access), Japan (beef access), Hong Kong (all meats) and Iran (beef and sheepmeat access) as part of our efforts to gain access for Irish meats to these rapidly growing markets.

Longer term targets for Irish meat access include China for beef and lamb, and Japan for beef. Other targeted markets for access include Irish beef and lamb to the North African and Middle East regions and my Department is engaging actively with the authorities in these countries. There is a strong demand for meat globally and my Department remains focused, in consultation with the industry, on ensuring that Irish exporters are in a position to take full advantage of the opportunities that arise. I regard this as essential work to ensure that the agri food sector in Ireland is able to develop to its full potential.

Earlier this year An Taoiseach launched the Bord Bia Origin Green programme under which food and drink companies sign up to a Sustainability Charter and make individual commitments which will be independently audited. This initiative which was internationally launched at the SIAL food trade fair will assist Ireland to become known as a world leader in sustainably produced food and drink. All of the above activity and more is encompassed in the Food Harvest 2020 growth strategy for the sector.

Poultry Industry

 516. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will consider facilitating the setting up of a Poultry Council in response to the recent request for a meeting to look at options for setting up such a council; and if he will ensure adequate representation of all sectors but in particular primary producers, and a time frame for any actions in this regard. [56274/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I met with the IFA Pig and Poultry Committee recently and a Poultry Council was one of a number of matters discussed. I agree that a collaborative approach between farmers and processors, where possible and appropriate, is likely to serve the best interests of the poultry sector.

Of course such an initiative would require consensus among the main players on the objectives from the outset. As an initial step, and without prejudice to the outcome, I have invited a group representative of both farmers and processors to submit proposals and to make a joint presentation on this matter to the Food Harvest 2020 High Level Working Group, which I chair.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Appeals

 517. 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 derogation on a disadvantaged area scheme in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56306/12]

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 DAS Appeals Committee.

Departmental Staff Redeployment

 518. 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 when he will introduce the revised procedures for the transfer of technical agricultural officers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56309/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney It is proposed that revised procedures to provide for the transfer of technical agricultural officers in my Department will be introduced early next year.

Beef Technology Adoption Programme Issues

 519. 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 the eligibility criteria for the beef technology adoption programme; the reason he has not made this programme available to new entrants to farming; if he will investigate the case of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56312/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Beef Technology Adoption Programme (BTAP) is an initiative to address the significant challenges to farm-level profitability that exist in the beef sector by incentivising participants to improve the productivity and technical efficiency of their beef enterprises.

With a budget of €5m per annum, the Programme was conceived to cater for approximately 5,000 participants with a maximum annual payment of €1,000 per participant. Based on the qualifying criteria applicable for established producers, the Programme was heavily oversubscribed with some 7,250 applications received by my Department, of which over 1,000 were subsequently found to be ineligible. All eligible applicants were accepted and the final payment amount will depend on the number of participants fulfilling the task requirements of the Programme.

The eligibility criteria as set out in the Terms and Conditions for the 2012 BTAP were as follows: Farmers with suckler cows had to be current participants in the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme (AWRBS), that is, they must have had received payments under the scheme on 2010-born calves and have applied to participate in ICBF HerdPlus prior to applying for the Programme; or Beef farmers without a suckler herd had to have applied to participate in ICBF HerdPlus prior to applying for the Programme. Any farmer finishing animals to slaughter had to have applied for membership of the Beef Quality Assurance Scheme (BQAS) before the application date for the Programme and had to be a member of the scheme by 31 October 2012. They also had to have finished a minimum of 15 cattle to slaughter in 2011.

I understand that the individual concerned was not admitted to the BTAP because he did not satisfy either of the primary eligibility criteria for suckler farmers or finishers and there were no places reserved in the 2012 Programme for new entrants to farming. However, the operation of the Programme is currently being reviewed in light of the experience to date and I can confirm that the position of new entrants to farming will receive careful consideration by my Department in the context of its deliberations on the design of a Programme for 2013.

Agrifood Sector Issues

 520. 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 encourage new entrants to the agricultural sector; if he will detail in tabular form the costs relating to these initiatives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56313/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Recent analysis shows that there are more farmers over 80 than under 35 in Ireland. I have been working to encourage more new entrants to take up farming as a career. Budget 2013 saw the extension of key reliefs that were already in place for young new entrants (such as the 100% relief from Stamp Duty and the 100% stock relief for Young Trained Farmers). Extending these reliefs is not straightforward given that there is a requirement for EU State Aid approval for such measures. The deputy will also be aware that changes were made to retirement relief in budget 2012 to encourage inter-generational land transfers.

  I am delighted that the number of applicants for Teagasc courses has greatly increased the last two years. Teagasc has responded well to this demand have introduced new courses to cater for a variety of needs. For example Teagasc has recently launched a new Professional Diploma in Dairy Farm Management (Level 7) in association with University College Dublin (UCD). Teagasc have also developed recently a new   Level 6 Specific Purpose Certificate in Farm Administration course to help meet the training requirements for full-time or part-time farmers. In addition, they have also consulted with the banking sector to make sure that their students know how to prepare business plans and detailed cash-flow plans in support of credit applications.

  Measures to provide targeted support to young farmers are part of the current negotiations on the reform of the CAP and will I hope form part of any final agreement. I have strongly supported the proposal for a top-up for young farmers under pillar 1 of the CAP, and indeed Ireland was one of the first countries to suggest this measure in the negotiations.

  I am also happy that the new restructuring relief has been announced in the 2013 budget. This is the result of detailed work which analysed the reasons why the old consolidation relief was not working. I am confident that the new relief in relation to Capital Gains Taxes will be more effective, especially given that Stamp Duty rates have been reduced. Re-structuring is essential for us to meet the Food Harvest 2020 targets. We need to use land more productively and encourage more young farmers to make the best use of the land. A recent EU Commission study found that ‘younger[farm] managers tend to perform better than the EU average, with 46% more area and 57% more economic potential for 21% more labour force [[1]  Commission Staff Working Paper, Impact Assessment, CAP towards 2020, Annex 1: Situation and prospects for EU agriculture and rural areas  , p. 25. Brussels, 12/10/2011.   

  Ireland has a very low level of land sales, with most land staying within the same family for generations. Only 0.4% of land changes hand in any given year. Young farmers that want to expand need to be able to access land. According to the latest census of agriculture the average farm has 3.8 land parcels. This means that our farmers are wasting time and diesel driving between plots of land, increasing the stress and the risk of accidents. Young farmers will now have an opportunity to consolidate their holdings and increase efficiency.

  I am hopeful therefore that the measures that I have introduced will encourage more young people into farming and address the age profile imbalance in Irish farming.

  The costs of tax incentives is a matter for the Revenue Commissioner in the first instance. However, the new measures are designed to encourage activity that was not taking place in the absence of such initiatives. While there will technically be some tax foregone, the fact is that this tax was not being collected because the sale and re-structuring of land parcels was previously minimal.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Appeals

 521. 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 when a 2012 disadvantaged area scheme payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56327/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The appeal of the person named was recently forwarded to the DAS Appeals Committee for consideration; immediately that Committee has adjudicated on this appeal, the person concerned will be notified of their decision, in writing.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Applications

 522. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the position regarding the outstanding disadvantaged area payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56355/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney As processing of the 2012 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme application has recently been finalised, payment will shortly issue to the nominated bank account.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Applications

 523. 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 disadvantaged area payment and rep scheme 4 payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [56356/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney As processing of the 2012 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme application has recently been finalised, payment will shortly issue to the nominated bank account.

The person named commenced REPS 4 in May 2008 and received payments for the first four years of their contract.

REPS 4 is a measure under the current 2007-13 Rural Development Programme and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications to be completed before any payments can issue. The process has been completed in relation to the person named and the 75% Year 5 payment amounting to €7716.39 issued on 10 December 2012 and the remaining 25% balancing amount of €2572.13 will issue shortly.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Appeals

 524. 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 an appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56357/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney An application under the 2012 Single Payment/Disadvantaged Areas Schemes was received from the person named on 10 May 2012.

In order to comply with EU requirements, the applicant was one of a number selected for inspection. This inspection resulted in findings of an over-declaration in area of between 3% and 20% under the Single Payment Scheme and an over-declaration of 10.62 % under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, which, under the terms and conditions of the Schemes, resulted in reduced payments under both.

The applicant was notified by letter dated 16 November of this outcome and the reasons for it. A request for a review has not as yet been received. My Department will now further contact the person named to clarify the procedure.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments

 525. Deputy Jim Daly Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the position regarding an agri environment option scheme appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56365/12]

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 with effect from 1 September 2010.

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. The person named was selected for a ground inspection which took place on 12 May 2011. During this inspection, areas of non-compliance with the terms and condition of the scheme were noted in relation to Tree Planting Standard Option which resulted in a penalty being imposed. A letter issued to the person named informing him of this penalty and giving him the option to appeal the decision. An appeal was lodged with the Agriculture Appeals Office on 5 March 2012 and an oral hearing took place on 12 November 2012. The file has been reviewed and a letter issued to the person named on 30 November 2012 informing him that his appeal was successful.

The application will now be processed based on the outcome of this appeal.

Parking Regulations

 526. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he has been briefed on any proposals to introduce parking charges in Howth Harbour, County Dublin; his views on any such proposals in view of the fact that local people believe that such a move would be devastating for marine leisure and tourism businesses in Howth; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [56367/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Howth is one of 6 Fishery Harbour Centres operated by the State each of whose primary purpose is to provide facilities and services for the fishing industry and fisheries-related activities.

In parallel with fishing-related enhancements, there have been a number of developments at the Fishery Harbours in recent years that underpin their expanding use for leisure and marine tourism, as well as other maritime enterprises.

As a consequence, there has been significant capital investment in the Fishery Harbour Centres and the State must necessarily be fully committed to maximising the return on its investment.

For that reason, all income generated by the Fishery Harbour Centres goes back into a ring-fenced Fishery Harbour Centres Fund which is used exclusively for the operating and management costs of the Fishery Harbours.

The introduction of parking charges at Howth Fishery Harbour Centre was originally examined some years ago in the context of a proposed Howth Traffic and Parking Management Plan, in conjunction with Fingal County Council. That project did not subsequently proceed; however, it is generally acknowledged that traffic and parking management within the Fishery Harbour Centre itself needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

As I have said, the Fishery Harbour Centre is first and foremost a working fishery harbour. As such, full access is required for commercial traffic servicing the fishing side and the various ancillary enterprises, with appropriate parking arrangements. Other harbour users such as the yacht club and other social users also require reasonable access to parking facilities. It is essential that the needs of both sets of users are accommodated in a safe and secure facility.

A significant number of the parking spaces in Howth Fishery Harbour are currently being taken up by commuters using the DART service during the working week, when the DART station car park is full. I have received submissions from interested parties from time to time that have pointed to the high level of leisure and amenity use of Howth in general both at weekends throughout the year and during the week in the summer months. However, the volumes of traffic currently parking at the Fishery Harbour, both during the working week and at weekends, are creating significant health and safety risks, to the extent that on some occasions access for emergency service vehicles is compromised.

A number of traffic and parking management enhancements are being carried out at present, and further improvements are in planning. These measures will have cost implications and I am required to ensure that the Fishery Harbour Centres are run on a financially sound basis. It is in that context that it is proposed to make a charge for the use of parking facilities provided within the Fishery Harbour Centre, in the same way that a charge is made for using any of its other facilities.

I am convinced that the revenues generated by the introduction of such charges will provide the funds to develop and enhance the Fishery Harbour Centre for all its users.

Stocking Densities

 527. 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 on stocking density appeal will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56368/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The appeal of the person named was recently forwarded to the DAS Appeals Committee for consideration; immediately that Committee has adjudicated on this appeal, the person concerned will be notified of their decision, in writing.

Fish Quotas

 528. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney not to proceed with the current proposals to distribute the boar fish allocation on an open draw basis, as the nine boats who caught their allocation in the 400 tonne boat allocation sector in the Spring should get their share of the allocation of which they were promised; his views on whether the current proposals to allocate on an open draw, one pair quota system is unjust and unfair; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [56375/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney As of 31/10/2012 the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) advised that 4,350 tonnes of Boarfish quota remained, this cannot be carried forward to 2013. A small amount was retained for a by-catch.   

  In order to ensure that this quota was fully utilised it was important to manage the allocations from a practical and economic perspective, in the most effective way possible. The re-allocation of quota at the end of October was subject to vessels having landed 65% of their catch-limit by 31/10/12. Given the numbers which qualified under this arrangement, a proportional division to all vessels would, in my view, not have provided the optimum management arrangements for the fishery. Based on the fishing pattern available there was a very real likelihood that a substantial portion of the quota would remain uncaught and because it could not be carried forward to 2013, entirely lost to the industry.

  For this reason, I decided the industry should determine the number of vessels in both the ring fenced portion and open fishery which should be given an allocation taking account of the practicalities and economics of the fishery. The amount available was allocated in the existing ratio of 85% for the ring fenced group 15% for open fishery.   In line with the published management arrangements, only vessels which landed 65% of their allocation/catch-limit in the first fishing period were considered for the re-allocation.   

  The FIF recommend the allocations and vessel numbers for the re-allocation as the industry themselves are best placed to fully understand the vessel numbers and allocations which would assist with a full utilisation of the national quota. A draw was held, witnessed by Industry representatives in which two pairs were drawn from the non allocated group which received 322 tonnes per pair and two pairs from the ring fenced group which received 1200 tonnes per pair.

  The deputy refers to a promise which I take to mean in relation to reallocation.   Neither I nor my Department made such a promise, the only undertaking given was that these boats would be included in any allocation process if they met the landing requirement for the first period. The communication which issued from my Department on 7/2/2012 along with Determination (No.18) of the Need for an Authorisation for Certain Fish Stocks specifically stated:

Vessels without track record to have a catch limit of 400 tonnes for the 1st period (up from 150 tonnes to 400 tonnes): vessels which land 65% of the 400 tonnes will under the revised arrangements be included for any re-allocation in the 2nd period. “    

  There are no undertakings with regard to the process for re-allocation.

  I believe the management arrangements put in place for the re-allocation will deliver a proper and effective management regime for this fishery.    

Public Sector Allowances Payments

 529. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the date on which he intends to review the salary grading structure of the public service as it affects his Department as committed to in the Programme for Government. [56378/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Salary scales for all grades of civil servants including those serving in my Department are set centrally by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. It is not a matter therefore for me or my Department to review these salary scales.


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