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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 498-520
 Header Item Bord na gCon Administration
 Header Item Bord na gCon
 Header Item Greyhound Industry
 Header Item Bord na gCon
 Header Item Bord na gCon
 Header Item GLAS Payments
 Header Item Transfer of Entitlements
 Header Item Transfer of Entitlements
 Header Item Herd Data
 Header Item Consular Services Staff
 Header Item Agriculture Industry
 Header Item Agriculture Cashflow Support Loan Scheme Data
 Header Item Hen Harriers Threat Response Plan
 Header Item Bord Bia Strategy
 Header Item Departmental Staff Data
 Header Item Exports Growth
 Header Item Exports Growth
 Header Item Exports Growth

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 944 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 84 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 498-520

Bord na gCon Administration

 498. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the reason for the delay in 2015 Irish Greyhound Board accounts being published in view of the fact they were published in 2017. [15358/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed Bord na gCon is a commercial State body, established in 1958 under the Greyhound Industry Act 1958, chiefly to control greyhound racing and to improve and develop the greyhound industry. Bord na gCon is a body corporate and a separate legal entity from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The  2015 Bord na gCon accounts were audited by the C&AG and submitted to my Department in December 2016. Following submission to Government, the accounts were laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas on the 22nd of February 2017. 

Bord na gCon

 499. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the reason the legal fees for Irish Greyhound Board were €1.2 million in 2016. [15359/17]

 500. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the details of the legal fees for the Irish Greyhound Board for 2016; and if this figure can be obtained from the management accounts. [15361/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed I propose to take Questions Nos. 499 and 500 together.

  Bord na gCon, a commercial State body was established under the Greyhound Industry Act 1958 chiefly to control greyhound racing and to improve and develop the greyhound industry.

  According to the 2015 Bord na gCon accounts, legal and professional fees amounted to €1.4m. Bord na gCon state in their published accounts that they were party to a settlement in November 2015, of three related High Court cases that had been ongoing since September 2010. Details of the legal costs in 2016 will be available following the C&AGs audit of the 2016 accounts. 

Greyhound Industry

 501. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed his views on the greyhound industry uniting as was requested by the Minister of State with responsibility for food, forestry and horticulture at the last forum. [15367/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed I am confident that the greyhound industry has growth potential with sporting, leisure, tourism and cultural appeal across a wide national demographic. However, in order for the industry to realise its full potential it is imperative that all stakeholders work together towards this common goal and maximise the contribution of the sector to the Irish economy and to the social and cultural fabric of this country. It is my strong belief that the National Greyhound Consultative Forum is the vehicle through which this should happen.

  Questions Nos. 502 and 503 answered with Question No. 485.

Bord na gCon

 504. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the reason there has been such a dramatic decrease in turnover from €60 million in 2004 to €28 million in 2015 with regard to the Irish Greyhound Board. [15373/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed Bord na gCon is a commercial State agency responsible for the control, promotion and operation of greyhound racing.  

I understand from Bord na gCon that it has faced very difficult financial challenges in recent years and continues to operate in a difficult financial environment. There has been a significant decline in attendances at stadia, reducing tote receipts, reductions in the number of active owners and in breeding activity. Indecon in its review advised that the financial outcomes are due significantly to the economic crisis. It also advises that the financial stresses have also been due to bearing the cost of a major capital redevelopment project that was largely funded by bank borrowings and which did not deliver expected outcomes. 

Bord na gCon

 505. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the revenue the deal with a company (details supplied) brings into the Irish Greyhound Board annually. [15375/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed Bord na gCon, a commercial State body was established under the Greyhound Industry Act 1958 chiefly to control greyhound racing and to improve and develop the greyhound industry.

  Bord na gCon has informed me that the agreement between Bord na gCon and SIS is considered commercially sensitive and subject to a non-disclosure agreement.

  Questions Nos. 506 and 507 answered with Question No. 485.

GLAS Payments

 508. Deputy Pat Breen Information on Pat Breen Zoom on Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed when payments will issue to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15400/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The person named was approved into GLAS 1 with a contract commencement date of 1 October 2015.

  During the 2015 prepayment checking process an issue presented on the computerised crosscheck of Department databases. Department officials are actively working to resolve this issue with a view to further processing the application for payment as soon as possible.

Transfer of Entitlements

 509. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed if a person whose entitlements are the subject of a garnishee order can lease and or sell their entitlements in circumstances in which the garnishee order does not specifically state that the entitlements cannot be leased or sold; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15443/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed My Department is currently reviewing the position regarding the transfer of payment entitlements arising from a situation where a Garnishee Order is in place against the Transferor under a Transfer of Entitlements application and I will revert to the Deputy on the matter at the earliest opportunity.

  The deferred reply under Standing Order 42A was forwarded to the Deputy.

Transfer of Entitlements

 510. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed if a person whose entitlements are the subject of a garnishee order and who is unfit to carry out farming activities due to illness or injury can lease and or sell their entitlements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15444/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed My Department is currently reviewing the position regarding the transfer of payment entitlements arising from a situation where a Garnishee Order is in place against the Transferor under a Transfer of Entitlements application and I will revert to the Deputy on the matter at the earliest opportunity.

  The deferred reply under Standing Order 42A was forwarded to the Deputy.

Herd Data

 511. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the number of suckler beef farmers per county, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15462/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The number of herds in Ireland per county in 2016 that had a birth registered to one or more dams of a beef breed based on data from my Department’s Animal Identification and Movement system is as follows:

CountyNo.
Carlow862
Cavan3,430
Clare4,604
Cork7,659
Donegal3,920
Dublin213
Galway7,813
Kerry4,495
Kildare996
Kilkenny2,031
Laois1,703
Leitrim2,480
Limerick3,316
Longford1,607
Louth685
Mayo6,814
Meath1,976
Monaghan2,623
Offaly1,752
Roscommon3,643
Sligo2,593
Tipperary4,046
Waterford1,493
Westmeath1,883
Wexford2,028
Wicklow1,189
  
Total Number of herds75,854
  *Figures show number of herds per county where the herd had 1 or more births registered to a dam of a beef breed and the dam was 18 months or older at time of calf's birth.

  The suckler sector is a vital component of Ireland’s rural economy and the provision of support for it is of crucial importance. The current range of supports provided by my Department to suckler farmers represents a balance between direct income support and measures designed to improve its competitiveness and sustainability.

  The Beef Data and Genomics Programme is firmly established and its benefits are already clearly being seen and its credibility as a progressive and meaningful scheme for suckler farmers is well known.

  I am very conscious of the importance of improving the quality of the Irish suckler herd and the BDGP, along with other measures introduced by my Department such as the Mart Modernisation Scheme, are making a positive contribution to this. Commercial farmers making breeding decisions for their beef herds are now basing these on both economic and scientific data which are easily accessible to them when purchasing replacement stock using Eurostar data displayed at mart ringsides.   

  I will continue to ensure that as many markets for the produce of the Irish suckler herd both in live and processed form are opened to ensure a sustainable future for the Irish suckler herd.

Consular Services Staff

 512. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the number of agricultural attachés stationed in Irish embassies; and the location of all such embassies.  [15463/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed My Department has 12 attachés stationed in Irish embassies.  These attachés are located in the following nine locations:

  Abu Dhabi

  Beijing

  Brussels

  Geneva

  London

  Moscow

  Paris

  Rome

  Washington.

Agriculture Industry

 513. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed if he will provide the detail of all export certificates for meat, beef, lamb and pigmeat that Ireland has with other countries, in tabular form. [15464/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The countries with which export health certificates are agreed for beef, pigmeat and sheepmeat are shown in the following table and a number of other countries also accept Irish meat exports on the basis of general meat export certificates. The conditions for the exports of these products vary from country to country. There would be insufficient space in the table to provide the specific country detail of the conditions in the health certificate. The Department usually issues a Trader Notice when details of a new agreement are finalised. These trader notices are published on the Department website. Work is under way at present on a centralised website that will provide more detailed information for all the certificates, which will be of benefit to all stakeholders.  

  Agreed Veterinary Health Certificates

CountryBeefPigmeatSheepmeat
AlgeriaYesNoNo
AustraliaNoYesNo
BarbadosNoYesNo
CanadaYesYesYes
Cayman IslandsNoYesNo
EgyptYesNoNo
French PolynesiaYesNoNo
Hong KongYesYesYes
IndonesiaYesNoNo
Islamic Republic of IranYesNoYes
IsraelYesNoNo
JapanYesYesNo
LebanonYesNoYes
MaldivesYesYesYes
MoroccoYesNoNo
NamibiaYesNoYes
New CaledoniaYesNoNo
New ZealandYesYesNo
OmanYesNoYes
Peoples Republic of ChinaNoYesNo
PhilippinesYesYesYes
Republic of KoreaNoYesNo
RussiaYesYesYes
Saudi ArabiaYesNoNo
SerbiaNoYesNo
SeychellesYesYesYes
SingaporeYesYesYes
South AfricaYesYesYes
SwitzerlandYesNot requiredNot required
TrinidadNoYesNo
TunisiaYesNoYes
TurkeyYesNoNo
United Arab EmiratesYesNoYes
U.S.A.YesYesNo
VietnamNoYesNo

Agriculture Cashflow Support Loan Scheme Data

 514. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the number of applications from County Donegal submitted to the SBCI agriculture cashflow support loan scheme; the number of successful and unsuccessful applications from County Donegal, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15465/17]

 521. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the total number of applications submitted to the SBCI agriculture cashflow support loan scheme per county, in tabular form; the total number of successful and unsuccessful applications per county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15472/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed I propose to take Questions Nos. 514 and 521 together.

  The "Agriculture Cashflow Support Loan Scheme" was developed by my Department in co-operation with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI), making €150 million available to farmers at interest rates of 2.95%. One of my priorities has been to address the impact of the change in the sterling exchange rate and lower commodity prices in some agriculture sectors. This Scheme is significant in this regard, providing farmers with a low cost, flexible source of working capital, which will allow them to pay down more expensive forms of short-term debt, ensuring the ongoing financial sustainability of viable farming enterprises.

  SBCI uses the €25 million of public funding provided by my Department to leverage the total amount of €150 million and, along with the European Investment Fund’s ‘COSME’ (the EU programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and SMEs), is providing the guarantee required to underpin the loan's flexibility and lower the cost of the loans.

  My Department's contribution of €25million includes €11 million from the EU's 'exceptional adjustment aid for milk and other livestock farmers'. It was this exceptional aid package which facilitated the Scheme from an EU State Aid perspective, and additional funding is not possible under this particular arrangement. Other sectors, such as tillage and horticulture, were facilitated by national funding under the 'de minimis'' State Aid rules.

  The Scheme is administered through AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank and they will report on progress to the SBCI on a regular basis. Although no official returns have been made to my Department as yet, information is due to be provided shortly and it will be made available as soon as possible. However all of the banks have confirmed that they have applications up to the amounts available under the Scheme. There may be some residual availability but this will only emerge as applications are processed and loans drawn down. 

  I am pleased at the very positive reaction by farmers to the Scheme, which has proved that significant demand exists for low cost flexible finance. I hope that the commercial banks will respond positively to this demand by reducing interest rates and providing more flexible terms for cashflow loans in the future. I plan to meet with the Chief Executives of the banks shortly to discuss this and other issues relating access to finance in the agri-food sector.

Hen Harriers Threat Response Plan

 515. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed when the new hen harrier scheme will be open for persons to apply to it; if the first payments will issue in 2017; when he envisages the current timeline for the issues arising from the tendering process will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15466/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The proposed new scheme for the conservation of the hen harrier marks a new departure in the way in which such schemes are designed and delivered. Instead of this being done from the top down, a more consultative and farmer-led approach is being tested.

In the first instance, this meant recruiting a dedicated project team capable of delivering the new scheme at the local level and to this end my Department invited tenders from interested parties late last year. The closing date for this was 24 January 2017 and following evaluation of the submissions, my Department has selected its preferred bidder. At the present time, the process is in standstill in accordance with procurement law. When all elements of the procurement process have been completed,  the necessary contracts can be signed and work will then commence on developing the new scheme in consultation with all the relevant stakeholders, including the farmers concerned. Once this stage has been completed, the process of recruiting farmers into the new scheme will commence.

While there is still a lot of work to be done, I do anticipate that the first farmers will join the scheme later this year and that the first payment will include 2017. However, unlike other schemes,  the new hen harrier scheme will not be tied to the calendar year, and this provides for greater flexibility in payment. At this point I cannot say when the first payments will actually issue, as that process is one to be decided by the project team when they are ultimately appointed.

Bord Bia Strategy

 516. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the total amount allocated by Bord Bia for market promotion and diversification in 2016 and 2017 in each of the sectors beef, dairy, lamb, pig meat and poultry, in tabular form. [15467/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed Bord Bia market promotion and diversification activities in 2016 and 2017 comprise multi-sectoral actions such as international trade fairs and participation in trade missions, market and consumer insight services, promotional activity focused on individual sectors and EU generic promotion programmes. As the information requested concerns operational matters, Bord Bia has been asked to brief the Deputy on the matter . 

Departmental Staff Data

 517. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the total number of dedicated staff in his Department with respect to accessing new markets in other countries for Irish meat and dairy exports. [15468/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed Irish food and drink exports increased by 2% in 2016 to reach €11.15 billion and Ireland exports food and drink to around 180 countries all over the world. One of the Department's priorities now, particularly in the context of Brexit, is to further increase the market opportunity for Irish food and drink internationally, especially for the meat and dairy sectors. Indeed this principle of market development is already a key component of Food Wise 2025. We have achieved significant successes in recent years in conjunction with the various stakeholders to increase the number of markets to which we enjoy access.

In terms of beef market access, 2016 saw the extension of our beef market access to the USA to include Beef Intended for Grinding (BIFG) as well as the opening of the Canadian, New Zealand and Israeli beef markets. Significant steps were also taken in terms of beef market access to China, South Korea and Vietnam in conjunction with the Trade Mission there. 2017 has already seen the re-opening of the Egyptian market to Irish beef and we expect that beef exports may commence soon. It has also seen the extension of our beef market access to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to include a range of minced and processed beef products, as part of my Trade Mission there. 

My Department is also working on expanding market access for sheepmeat, pigmeat, poultry and cooked meats across a range of markets. For example, for sheepmeat, the market in Iran opened in 2016. It is also working to simplify certification procedures in a number of markets to which we already have access. 

In relation to dairy, Irish dairy products have a highly rated and hard earned reputation in terms of quality, safety and sustainability, and this gives them a competitive edge in markets over the world. My Department, in conjunction with other stakeholders, including the Irish dairy companies and agencies such as Bord Bia, are playing a key role in building the market for Irish dairy. In 2016 Ireland exported dairy products to over 130 countries. Against the backdrop of our efforts to significantly increase dairy output and grow the sector, export market diversification is of the upmost importance, and this is particularly true in the context of a post-Brexit scenario.

The meat market access work involves staff across the Department, including veterinary services, laboratory staff, inspectorate staff, International Trade Division and a wide range of other divisions, in completing market access questionnaires, facilitating incoming inspection visits, diplomatic meetings, agreeing export health certificates etc. All of this interconnected work facilitates the accessing of new markets. The unit also works very closely with external stakeholders such as Bord Bia, the industry, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and its Embassies abroad.

However, despite the significant successes achieved to date, I am reviewing the Department's approach to market access at present and I expect to be in a position to make an announcement on this in the near future.

Exports Growth

 518. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the progress on gaining access for Irish meat products, that is, beef, lamb and pigment to China; the remaining stages in the approval process outstanding; and the approximate timeframe for all stages to be completed and full access granted. [15469/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed Ireland enjoys market access to the Chinese market for Irish pigmeat  and a number of establishments are approved for export to China. In 2016 Ireland exported almost €120 million or over 70,000 tonnes of pigmeat to China, making it the second largest destination for exports after the United Kingdom. China accounted for 27% of our pigmeat exports in volume terms in 2016. 

As regards beef, getting market access is a major priority for the Department at present. The Chinese lifted the BSE ban on beef from Ireland in 2015, making Ireland the first EU Member State to make this progress, and this was followed by a systems audit visit conducted by the General Administration of Quality Supervision Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) in January 2016. As part of the Ministerial Trade Mission to China in September 2016 there was a political meeting with the Chinese AQSIQ Minister and he agreed to expedite consideration of the report of that inspection visit. This report was received in November and replied to in December. Following on from the positive outcome to that audit visit the next stages will be the agreement of a protocol and an export health certificate with the Chinese authorities. This is under active consideration at present by officials from both sides. Once that stage is complete Irish beef establishments will need to be approved to export to China and this normally involves an individual plant inspection visit conducted by the Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA). Both the Department and the Irish Embassy in Beijing have been very active on the outstanding issues on beef and are satisfied with the progress made to date.

As regards sheepmeat, my Department completed a sheepmeat questionnaire in 2014, which was submitted by Minister Coveney during a trade mission that year. However, we are advised by the Chinese authorities that it is only possible to make progress on one species at a time. Once market access for beef is achieved, we will seek to progress further our market access for sheepmeat.

Exports Growth

 519. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the progress on gaining access for Irish meat products, that is, beef, lamb and pigment to South Korea; the remaining stages in the approval process outstanding; and the approximate timeframe for all stages to be completed and full access granted. [15470/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed Ireland has enjoyed market access to the South Korean market for Irish pigmeat for a number of years. A certificate was originally agreed before 2000 but has been amended since then. A number of meat establishments are approved to produce pigmeat for export to South Korea and in 2016 exports of around €11 million, or 5,000 tonnes, took place. My Department also hosted a successful pigmeat and dairy re-inspection visit from Korean officials from both the Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency (QIA) and the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) during 2016.

  As regards beef, market access to South Korea is a high priority for the market access unit. My Department has completed a number of detailed questionnaires for the South Korean authorities over the years. We also received a visit from an inspection team from QIA in May 2016, who carried out a systems audit on our controls on beef production. The visit went well and they are finalising their report at present. Once their report is completed it would be signed off in Korea by both internal and external professional/technical advisory members before being brought to their Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MAFRA), of which QIA is part.

  The approval process for South Korea is complex and there are a number of stages to complete, many of which take place in South Korea. However, we are satisfied that we are making significant progress.

  As regards sheepmeat market access, we have not yet commenced the process with the South Korean authorities as this has not been identified as a high priority by the industry. For example in 2015, according to the OECD, sheepmeat consumption in South Korea was only 0.2 kg per capita compared to 9.6 kg per capita for beef and 28.4 kg per capita for pigmeat.

Exports Growth

 520. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the progress on gaining access for Irish meat products, that is, beef, lamb and pigment to the USA; the remaining stages in the approval process outstanding; and the approximate timeframe for all stages to be completed and full access granted. [15471/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed Ireland has enjoyed market access to the USA for Irish pigmeat for a number of years and a number of meat establishments are approved to produce pigmeat for export to the US. In 2016 exports of €25.4 million, or 6,360 tonnes, took place which made the USA the second largest Third Country destination for pigmeat exports after China.

As regards beef, we received a visit from the Food Safety Inspection  Service (FSIS) in 2014 which was followed by the lifting of the BSE ban in 2015. Therefore Ireland was the first EU Member State to get beef access to the USA, which is a testament to the high regard in which Irish beef is held. A total of 8 Irish plants have now been approved for the export of beef and exports of some 2,400 tonnes took place in 2016, which is an increase of 114% on the 2015 levels according to US customs data. 

In July 2016 DAFM received approval to send BIFG (Beef Intended for Grinding) to the USA. This will enhance our ability to export beef to the US, where a very significant demand exists for beef that will be minced and turned into beef burgers. My Department is working with some plants that are interested in exporting non-intact beef, or BIFG to the US. Beef plants that wish to be approved to export manufacturing beef to the US must implement in full the criteria agreed with the US before this trade may commence. My Department is currently working with the interested plants on these procedures.

As regards sheepmeat, we are awaiting the publication of a small ruminant rule on TSEs by the USDA, lifting the ban on EU sheepmeat, before we can make further progress on this issue. However, in anticipation of the lifting of this ban, in August 2016 my Department submitted a detailed questionnaire, or Self Reporting Tool (SRT) on sheepmeat to the USDA. The Department has also raised the issue bilaterally with US officials and remains keen to try and progress this dossier.


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