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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 858-876
 Header Item Agriculture Scheme Appeals
 Header Item Farm Inspections
 Header Item Farmers Charter Review
 Header Item Single Payment Scheme Appeals
 Header Item Single Payment Scheme Appeals
 Header Item Land Transfers
 Header Item Animal Welfare
 Header Item Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments
 Header Item Farm Inspections
 Header Item Alternative Farm Enterprises
 Header Item Ministerial Meetings
 Header Item Departmental Meetings
 Header Item Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments
 Header Item Farm Retirement Scheme Applications
 Header Item Single Payment Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Single Payment Scheme Appeals
 Header Item Harbours and Piers Funding
 Header Item Bord na gCon Inspections

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 835 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 118 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 858-876

Agriculture Scheme Appeals

 858. Deputy Pat Breen Information on Pat Breen Zoom on Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney further to Parliamentary Question No. 172 of 19 February 2014, when a decision will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13194/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney A reply issued from my Department to the person concerned on 25 February last confirming the earlier decision. In this reply, my Department explained that, in accordance with the rules governing the calculation of milk yield for the purposes of valuing a cow under the ERAD compensation schemes, the number of cows used for the purposes of this calculation is the number present at the breakdown test of 17 May 2012. There was no option within these rules to use the number of cows at any of the earlier tests in the herd. It was also explained that, in any event, even if it were possible to discount the two cows that were stated not to be milking, there would be no material change in the valuation band used to calculate the milk yield of the herd.

The person concerned was also informed that this decision may be appealed to the Agriculture Appeals Office, Kilminchy Court, Portlaoise, Co Laois and that any appeal must be lodged to the Agriculture Appeals Office within 3 months of this decision.

Farm Inspections

 859. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the reason arrangements were not made by his Department inspector with a person (details supplied) in County Carlow to inspect their land in 2013; the reason the inspector inspected the land without notice; the reason the inspector's report was not made available to the person to facilitate their appeal; if their written appeal will be dealt with; if an official from his Department will assist them to understand what is required from them; if a time frame for their 2013 payment will be given; if the missing map for their lands for the 2014 claim will be provided to them by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13155/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The 2013 Single Farm Payment Scheme application of the person named was selected for a Remote Sensing (i.e. Satellite Inspection). This inspection was carried out without the need to visit the farm. However, as it revealed overclaims it was necessary to carry out a rapid field visit (RFV). RFVs are not full farm inspections and involve an inspection of only the parcels where over-claims were detected by an examination of the satellite imagery and where confirmation is required, by an on the ground visit. Advance notice does not normally arise in inspections of this type.

Following the RFV the applicant was notified via a Formal Notification of the possibility of penalties. While this Formal Notification did issue to the applicant it is not standard operating procedure that applicants get copies of the complete inspection report. Following this inspection the person named was informed in writing dated 6 February 2014 that overclaims were found on specific parcels which he had declared and that it was the opinion of the inspecting officer that these overclaims were deemed to have been made intentionally

The person named appealed in writing dated 14 February 2014. The matter was referred to the District Superintendent for re-examination. That re-examination concluded that the original findings were correct. In addition, it was discovered that a further parcel was ineligible as it was not stock proof. Based on these findings the person named was informed that the original decision was upheld. As parcels declared by the person named were deemed to have been intentionally over claimed the Terms and Conditions governing the scheme indicate that no payments are due in respect of the year concerned. This decision was communicated to the person named on 18 March. Part of that communication informed the person named of his right to appeal to the Agriculture Appeals office within three months of the date of the decision.

The rules governing the schemes are set down in an extensive Help Sheet/Terms and conditions that issued with the application form. Officials from my Department have been in contact with the person named regarding the matter, however if the person named has a specific issue that requires clarification he can contact the relevant Section directly on this.

Finally, maps for all eligible parcels claimed by any applicant in any given year are provided to all applicants, as part of the following year’s application process.

Farmers Charter Review

 860. 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 his plans to review the charter of farmer's rights; the organisations he will engage with; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13202/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I have recently established a Farmers’ Charter Review Group to discuss a new Charter and Action Plan for farmers to replace the Farmers Charter and Action Plan 2009-2011. The Review Group is chaired by an Assistant Secretary in my Department and is comprised of Department officials and representatives of the main farmer representative organisations. It held its first meeting on 3rd March 2014. The Irish Farmers Association, the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association, Macra na Feirme and the Irish Co-Operative Society have nominated representatives to sit on the Review Group.

A number of meetings of the Review Group will be held over the coming months to agree standards of service in respect of Department schemes to which the new Charter will apply. The new Charter will set out payment and decision targets in respect of these schemes and take account of any measures agreed under the CAP reform programme and the new Rural Development Plan. A Charter Monitoring Group will be established under an independent chair to monitor Charter commitments.

Single Payment Scheme Appeals

 861. Deputy Pat Breen Information on Pat Breen Zoom on Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney further to Parliamentary Question No. 173 of 19 February 2014, when a decision will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13203/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The results of the ground verification check have now been verified. A further stage of processing is now required to finalise the payment position for the 2013 Scheme year and previous years, if applicable. Any payment due on completion of this process will issue to the person named as soon as possible.

The person named will be notified of the final outcome of the verification process as soon as possible. In the event that the person named is dissatisfied with the outcome, the decision can be appealed to the independent LPIS Appeals Committee.

Single Payment Scheme Appeals

 862. Deputy Noel Coonan Information on Noel Coonan Zoom on Noel Coonan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when a single farm payment appeal will be finalised in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13212/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney A review of the land parcels declared by the person named under the 2013 Single Payment Scheme revealed that several of the land parcels declared by the person named contained ineligible features. As the person named has applied for a review of my Department’s decision, a visit by a Department official to verify the position is necessary to resolve the matter. This verification visit will be conducted shortly and the applicant will be informed of the outcome of the visit as soon as is possible.

In the event that the person named is dissatisfied with the outcome of this verification check, the decision can be appealed to the independent LPIS Appeals Committee.

Land Transfers

 863. 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 if a farmer transfers land with entitlements to his son this year will the entitlements be lost on the land transferred as it will not have been farmed by the same farmer in 2013, 2014 and 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13244/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney If the father transfers some or all of a holding, including the land, to his son by way of gift the son will “step into the shoes” of the father. He will benefit from the allocation right established by his father, the land references of 2013 or 2015, whichever is the lower, and the 2014 value reference. The son will effectively be allocated the set of entitlements that would otherwise have been allocated to the father had he remained farming.

Animal Welfare

 864. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will consider an outright ban on the use of animals in circuses here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13271/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Conditions under which circus animals are kept and managed come under the scope of the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013. I do not intend to interfere with the use of animals in circuses, provided they are carried out in a proper manner and no unnecessary suffering of the animals is involved. Accordingly, I have no plans at this juncture to ban animals from performing in circuses in this country.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments

 865. Deputy Martin Ferris Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris 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 Limerick was informed in January that they were cleared for their AEOS payment and have not received any payment to date. [13273/14]

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 2011 Agri-Environment Options Scheme with effect from the 1st  September 2011 and full entitlements have issued in respect of the 2011 and 2012 Scheme years.

  During the checking process in respect of the 2013 Scheme year an overclaim was identified in relation to claimed areas on the Natura action which resulted in a penalty being imposed. The application was processed on this basis and full entitlements have issued in respect of 2013 – 75% payment, net of penalty, issued on the 23rd January 2014 and the balancing 25% payment issued on the 18th  March 2014.

Farm Inspections

 866. Deputy Seán Kyne Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the reason a person (details supplied) did not receive a response nor compensation following an incident at their farm. [13124/14]

 867. Deputy Seán Kyne Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he is satisfied that correct procedures were carried out by his Department in the valuation of reactor stock in respect of a person (details supplied); if the second inspector should have recourse to the values given by the first inspector; and if he feels that the case should be reviewed. [13127/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I propose to take Questions Nos. 866 and 867 together.

  My Department does not have any record in relation to the first issue raised, which relates to events alleged to have occurred over a quarter of a century ago.

  In relation to the second issue, which relates to a restriction imposed in 2008, I am satisfied that the relevant Department’s procedures, under which a valuer conducting an appeal valuation is not made aware of the earlier valuation, were complied with in this case.

  I might add that, arising from a Freedom of Information Act application in 2011, the person named was supplied with all relevant records held by my Department in relation to both issues, in accordance with the requirements of that legislation.

Alternative Farm Enterprises

 868. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if the new research proposals announcement apply to projects in the agricultural bioenergy field. [13137/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Investments in research under the FIRM, Stimulus and CoFoRD competitive funding programmes operated by my Department are primarily focused on areas prioritised under the National Research Prioritisation Exercise (NRPE), in particular 'Sustainable Food Production and Processing' and 'Food for Health'. 

  My Department’s 2014 competitive Call for Research proposals was launched on Tuesday 11th March. The Call is broad in scope and covers areas such as animal and crop production, food processing and food product development and innovation. Topic E1.6 in the Section on ‘Supply Chain Sustainability and Competitiveness, Policy and Bioeconomy’  provides for a desk study aimed at identifying how and where Ireland can optimise its opportunities along the Bioeconomy value chain which includes the agricultural bioenergy field.

  It may also be worth noting that, among the grant awards I announced last November arising from the Department’s 2013 Call, was an investment of €933,857 for research on short rotation forestry (SRF). The main purpose of this research, which will be conducted over a 4 year period, is to explore the potential of short rotation forestry to contribute to biomass production and renewable energy targets in Ireland. This builds on investments made by the Department on bioenergy under previous calls of the Stimulus programme. Details of all these are available on the Departments website at www.agriculture.gov.ie.

Ministerial Meetings

 869. 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 meet a person (details supplied). [13379/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The person concerned might contact my office with a view to arranging a meeting with an Assistant Secretary of my Department along with one of my advisers.

Departmental Meetings

 870. Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the number of times his Department received requests by Philanthropy Ireland to meet in 2011, 2012 and 2013; the number of times his Department met with Philanthropy Ireland in those years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13381/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Neither I nor my Department’s officials have had any requests for or meetings with the named company or their representatives.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments

 871. 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 the 2013 payment under AEOS 2 will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Galway; the reason for the delay in issuing this payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13422/14]

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 2011 Agri-Environment Options Scheme with effect from the 1st  September 2011 and full entitlements have issued in respect of the 2011 and 2012 Scheme years.

  During a 2013 inspection, the person named was found to have non-compliances in respect of the Coppicing of Hedgerows, Laying of Hedgerows and Alternative Water Source for Bovines actions. A letter issued to the person named notifying them of the inspection findings and setting out the appeal option. As my Department has no record of receiving an appeal, the application has been processed on the basis of the inspection findings and I expect payment in respect of 2013, less penalties due, to issue shortly.

Farm Retirement Scheme Applications

 872. Deputy Martin Ferris Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the number of farmers that have availed of the early retirement scheme. [13444/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The number of farmers that have availed of the Early Retirement Schemes (ERS) are as follows:

ERS 19,910
ERS 23,168
ERS 3600

Single Payment Scheme Eligibility

 873. Deputy Martin Ferris Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the number of farmers availing of the early retirement scheme that have, as a result, lost their entitlements to single farm payment. [13445/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney No farmer who availed of the Early Retirement Scheme lost their Single Farm Payment entitlements. As all farmers who availed of this scheme had to retire from active farming they had three options as to what they wanted to do with their entitlements:

1. Sell entitlements

2. Transfer entitlements to an active farmer

3. Lease entitlements

  Those farmers who leased out entitlements that are now reverting back to them must act now to dispose of them before 15 May, otherwise they will be lost. I am writing to all farmers in this position to advise them of all their options.

Single Payment Scheme Appeals

 874. Deputy Noel Harrington Information on Noel Harrington Zoom on Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the position regarding a single farm payment appeal in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13477/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney A review of the land parcels declared by the person named under the 2013 Single Payment Scheme revealed that several of the land parcels declared by the person named contained ineligible features. As the person named applied for a review of my Department’s decision, a visit by a Department official to verify the position was necessary to resolve the matter. This verification visit has been conducted and the file is being processed. The applicant will be informed of the outcome of the visit as soon as is possible.

In the event that the person named is dissatisfied with the outcome of this verification check, the decision can be appealed to the independent LPIS Appeals Committee.

Harbours and Piers Funding

 875. Deputy Joan Collins Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he has received an application from Sligo County Council for funding for vessel access and harbour-pier repairs at Rosses Point, County Sligo, under the 2014 fishery harbour and coastal infrastructure development programme; when a decision is expected to be made on this application; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13561/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Rosses Point is in the ownership of Sligo County Council and responsibility for its development, repair and maintenance rests with the Local Authority in the first instance.

As part of the Governments response to the storm damage wreaked on our publicly owned piers, harbours, my Department invited 15 Coastal Local Authorities to apply for funding under a once off Storm Damage Programme to repair this vital infrastructure.

Sligo County Council did submit an application for funding for works at Rosses Point under this programme. However, the application for Rosses Point did not meet with the qualifying criteria and accordingly was not included in the projects approved under the 2014 Storm Damage Programme. That said two other projects submitted by the Council at Mullaghmore Harbour and Enniscrone Pier were successful and have been allocated combined funding of €150,300.

It has also been brought to the Council’s attention that the project at Rosses Point may be considered for funding if re-submitted under the Department’s Marine Leisure and Coastal Infrastructure Development Programme, for which applications will be sought from Local Authorities in the near future.

Bord na gCon Inspections

 876. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the number of on course dope tests carried out by officers of Bord na gCon in each of the years 2011, 2012 and 2013; the number of tests found positive for prohibited-banned substances in each of those years; the numbers of such positive cases for prohibited substances decided by the board's control committee in each of the years in question; and the number of such cases for which details of the control committees decisions were formally published for the information of the Irish greyhound industry in each of the years 2011, 2012 and 2013.  [13592/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The control and administration of greyhound racing, including the matters referred to by the Deputy, are a matter for Bord na gCon.

The Control Committee and the Control Appeals Committee of Bord na gCon were established under the Greyhound Industry (Control Committee and Control Appeal Committee) Regulations 2007 (S.I. Number 301 of 2007). Subject to due process, positive results are published. The committees referred to above make the final determination in relation to publication of the positive results.

Samples are tested for prohibited substances in the National Greyhound Laboratory at Bord na gCon headquarters in Limerick. When a sample is declared positive by the National Greyhound Laboratory, owners/trainers are afforded due process including a hearing at the Control Committee and an appeal to the Control Appeal Committee. This can cause a significant time lag from the initial notification of the positive sample to subsequent publication of the results of the positive samples. Consequently, the number of cases published in a particular year can span more than 1 calendar year.

I understand from Bord na gCon that in all, total of 4807, 6893 and 7307 on-course samples tests were carried out for prohibited substance in the years 2011, 2012 and 2013, respectively. There were 45 (0.9%) laboratory positive tests in 2011, 56 (0.8%) in 2012 and 51 (0.7%) in 2013.

Of the 45 positive tests in 2011 - 41 were published by the Control Committee (although not all published in that year), 3 were dismissed in favour of the owner and 1 was appealed to the Control Appeal Committee, which upheld the original findings.

Of the 56 positive cases in 2012 - 8 were published by the Control Committee (although not all published in that year), 9 will be published shortly, 20 were found in favour of the owner, and 19 are still pending deliberation by the Control Committee.

Of the 51 laboratory positive cases in 2013 , 7 cases were published by the Control Committee in January 2014, 11 are awaiting imminent publication, 2 cases were dismissed in favour of the owner and 31 are still pending deliberation by the Control Committee.

I understand from Bord na gCon that the number of published details of positive findings in the years 2011, 2012 and 2013 years was 31, 30 and 0, respectively. However, 17 cases were published in January 2014 and Bord na gCon expects that approximately a further 20 cases will be published shortly.

On a general point, I have commissioned an independent review of certain matters in relation to Bord na gCon, which will include an assessment of the regulatory framework. I will be considering any recommendations made in relation to these matters on receipt of that report, which I expect to be finalised shortly.


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