Houses of the Oireachtas

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

Go to oireachtas.ie

 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 255-267
 Header Item Veterinary Inspection Service
 Header Item Beef Data and Genomics Programme
 Header Item Animal Culls
 Header Item Hare Coursing Regulation
 Header Item Transfer of Entitlements
 Header Item Brexit Preparations
 Header Item Beef Exports
 Header Item Transport of Animals
 Header Item Agriculture Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Agriculture Scheme Administration
 Header Item Inshore Fisheries
 Header Item Fishing Industry Data
 Header Item Common Agricultural Policy Negotiations

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 981 No. 5

First Page Previous Page Page of 66 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 255-267

Veterinary Inspection Service

 255. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties being experienced by farmers in County Donegal when trying to procure the services of vets, particularly with respect to out-of-hours farm visits; his views on whether the ongoing shortage of qualified vets is also leading to succession issues in rural veterinary practices; his plans to introduce a dedicated rural support scheme to incentivise practitioners to remain in rural practice; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [15719/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed In relation to Co. Donegal, I note that the Veterinary Council of Ireland (VCI) last month granted a Certificate of Suitability to a new veterinary premises located in the county. This should assist in an increased availability of veterinary services in its catchment area. 

 My Department's National Farmed Animal Health Strategy noted a concern at the possible reduction of the availability of farmed animal veterinary services, particularly in certain rural areas. The Strategy recommended that my Department evaluate the availability of farmed animal veterinary services, and the Deputy should be aware that this study is currently underway.

Beef Data and Genomics Programme

 256. 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 Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the assistance that can be given to farmers who are in the suckler farming business who wish to opt-out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15741/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed In submitting an application to participate in the BDGP, applicants gave an undertaking to adhere to the terms and conditions that govern the Programme.  Payments under BDGP are based on the full completion of specified actions over the course of six years which were designed to improve the genetic merit of a beef farmer’s herd.   Section 13 of the scheme’s Terms and Conditions refers to applicants who may withdraw from the scheme prematurely and it states that: ‘Where a contract is terminated by an applicant all monies paid under the Programme shall be repaid to the Department except in cases of Force Majeure.’

Further sub-section (a) states: "Where a beneficiary is unable to continue complying with the requirements of the Programme for reasons beyond his or her control a case may be made under force majeure to terminate participation in the Programme".

In particular, applicants should make reference to sub-section (b) which states the various force majeure categories that may be recognised and applied without prejudice in individual cases.

Applicants wishing to avail of this mechanism should inform the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, in writing with relevant evidence pertinent to their particular case. All correspondence should be addressed to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Beef Schemes Section, Old Abbeyleix Road, Portlaosie, Co Laois.

Animal Culls

 257. Deputy Jackie Cahill Information on Jackie Cahill Zoom on Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed his plans for testing and culling of deer in view of another outbreak of tuberculosis in County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15760/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The role played by deer in the spread of bovine TB is currently the subject of a detailed scientific investigation being carried out by my officials in collaboration with UCD, focusing on the genetic relationship between strains of bovine TB isolated from cattle, deer and badgers in Co. Wicklow. Previous work carried out by my officials in this area had demonstrated that the same strains were circulating in the three species in the Calary area of Wicklow. A related investigation, carried out by the Calary Deer Steering Group which involves my officials, NPWS, Coillte and the IFA, is continuing to conduct a survey of the level of TB in culled deer in that area.

 In other parts of the country, there is no evidence of deer playing a significant role in the spread of TB in cattle, although they may be a spillover species.  In any area where there are local concerns about deer and TB, my officials are willing to test culled deer for TB free of charge through the regional veterinary laboratories.  In this way, if there are areas where deer may play a role locally, this can be detected.

Hare Coursing Regulation

 258. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed when the minutes of the coursing monitoring committee for 2018 will be made available. [15765/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The Monitoring Committee on Coursing meets annually and considers any issues arising from the previous season.  Wildlife Rangers from the National Parks and Wildlife Service and veterinary inspectors from my Department attend these meetings and report on their findings.  The Monitoring Committee also arranges to have any complaints or reported incidents investigated.

The report of the Monitoring Committee on Coursing for the meeting held on 18th December 2018 will be made available once adopted by the monitoring committee.

Transfer of Entitlements

 259. Deputy Willie Penrose Information on Willie Penrose Zoom on Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed if he will address the issues raised in correspondence (details supplied); if same will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15777/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The person named was the transferee on a 2019 Transfer of Entitlements application to receive entitlements by way of inheritance.  The entitlements in question are rightfully the property of those named in the will as beneficiaries of the rest and residue of the estate of the deceased person named.

  The 2018 transfer of entitlements application could only processed if these beneficiaries waived their rights to the entitlements in favour of the person named.   In the absence of one waiver form, the transfer application was processed for 7/8th of the entitlements.  If the outstanding waiver form is received, the remainder 1/8th   of the entitlements can then be inherited.

Brexit Preparations

 260. 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 has applied to the EU for the available financial assistance for training officials in performing sanitary and phytosanitary controls as indicated in an EU communication (details supplied); and if preparations are in place for a no-deal Brexit in view of the completion of preparations by the EU for a possible no-deal scenario on 12 April 2019. [15783/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed I have not, as yet, applied to the EU for the financial assistance for training officials in performing sanitary and phytosanitary controls as indicated in the EU Preparedness communication referred to by the Deputy.

This is because, in terms of the training of Department officials to carry out sanitary and phytosanitary controls at our ports and airports, officials in my Department have been availing of appropriate import control training on an ongoing basis since 2007 by participating in EU-led training initiatives such as the “Better Training for Safer Food” European Commission Training Initiative. This is EU-funded training and it is specifically targeted to training of Government officials carrying out all EU official controls in the food safety and animal health and plant health areas. It has direct applicability in terms of addressing Brexit contingencies. Consequently a significant cohort of staff in my Department is adequately qualified to carry out import SPS controls.

On preparedness, my Department, as part of the whole of Government approach, have been very active in this regard. Regarding import controls, we have been working with other departments and agencies to have the necessary arrangements in place at our ports and airports in order to allow the Department to fulfil its legal obligations as efficiently as possible, while also ensuring the minimum possible disruption to trading arrangements.

Beef Exports

 261. 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 barriers for beef exports to Iran in view of the fact that a veterinary health certificate for the export of beef was agreed in 2013. [15784/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed Total Irish agrifood exports to Iran in 2017 were around €11.5 million, the majority of which (€10.25 million) was accounted for by dairy exports. According to the CSO, 26 tonnes of beef were exported to Iran in 2017.  

 The role of my Department is to open up markets for the industry and it is then up to the industry, with the support of my Department and Bord Bia, to avail of these opportunities. However, the actual levels of exports will depend on a range of factors, including global supply and demand dynamics, currency fluctuations and individual customer requirements.  

 A veterinary health certificate for the export of beef from Ireland to Iran was agreed in March 2013.  DAFM officials participated in a successful trade mission to Iran and Turkey in April 2016.  While the trade mission was primarily dairy-focused, DAFM officials had the opportunity to meet with their Iranian counterparts in order to progress and ultimately agree sheepmeat access to the Iranian market and also to explore other common areas of interest. 

Limited exports to Iran can be explained by a combination of unfavourable trading conditions, cheaper supplies of beef from Brazil to the Iranian market, and financial barriers.  Work is on-going within the EU to devise measures to overcome financial barriers to trade between the EU and Iran.

Transport of Animals

 262. 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 his views on proposals by an organisation (details supplied) to expand lairage capacity at a location. [15785/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The relevant EU Council Regulation 1/2005 that deals with the transport of animals specifies that once Irish calves arrive in France, they must be rested at the port of unloading or in its immediate vicinity. The control post in Abbeville referred to in the article is over three and a half hours drive from Cherbourg and cannot therefore be considered in the immediate vicinity of the unloading point. I am supportive of the live trade and I am not prepared to undermine its future by failing to adhere to the relevant animal welfare regulations.

While the provision of additional lairage facilities remains a commercial decision for the private operators involved, my Department remains in close contact with the French authorities in these matters and I welcome the recent increase of 400 spaces approved by those authorities in respect of one of the lairages located in the vicinity of Cherbourg. This amounts to 1,200 additional spaces per week for calves.

The Deputy will also be aware that I reduced the inspection levy on calf exports from €4.80 to €1.20 in early 2017. I should also point out that calf exports in the first three months of this year are up 36% compared to same period in 2017.

Agriculture Scheme Eligibility

 263. 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 a reduction to the minimum loan amount from €50,000 for primary agriculture under the future growth loan scheme will be considered in view of the fact that it will be in excess of many requirements for farmers according to a farm organisation (details supplied). [15786/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed I was pleased to launch the Future Growth Loan Scheme last week.  It has been developed by my Department and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation in partnership with the Department of Finance, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) and the European Investment Fund (EIF).  It will be delivered through participating finance providers and make up to €300 million of investment loans available to eligible Irish businesses, including farmers and the agrifood & seafood sectors.

  As I said in the announcement last week, this is a long-awaited source of finance for young and new entrant farmers, especially the cohort who do not have high levels of security.  It will also serve smaller-scale farmers, who often do not have the leverage to negotiate for more favourable terms with their banking institution.

  This type of long-term unsecured finance of 8 to 10 years is not currently available on the Irish market. Although the minimum loan amount for the Scheme is €100,000, I sought and agreed a minimum of €50,000 specifically for farmers. With a term of 8 to 10 years, I am advised that for smaller investment requirements, other types of finance may be more appropriate.

  The Scheme will open for loan eligibility applications through the SBCI from 17 April. Three finance providers (AIB, Bank of Ireland and KBC) have agreed to participate in the Scheme and negotiations are ongoing with another two.  The Government is urging all potential applicants to use the coming three weeks to start preparing their proposals for long-term capital investment. Further information including a FAQ document may be accessed on my Department’s website at:

https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/agri-foodindustry/agri-foodandtheeconomy/agri-foodbusiness/futuregrowthloanscheme/

Agriculture Scheme Administration

 264. 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 his plans to make provision for working capital to farmers available in a new loan scheme in view of the fact that both the SME working capital Brexit loan scheme and the future growth loan scheme do not allow farmers to drawdown funds for working capital; and if farmers will be permitted to apply to the SME working capital loan scheme in view of the low drawdown of funds to date. [15787/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The €300 million "Brexit Loan Scheme" was developed in cooperation with the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) and the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI), to provide working capital support to enable eligible Irish businesses to implement the necessary changes to address the challenges posed by Brexit. The Scheme opened for applications on 28th March 2018 and it will remain open until 31st March 2020.

At 29th March, there were 553 eligibility applications received, of which 497 are approved and 11 are ineligible. The total number of loans progressed to sanction at bank level is 99 to a value of €21.6m, 20 of which relate to food businesses with a total value of €6.4m.  While the number of loans progressed to sanction level is relatively low, it reflects the current uncertainty regarding the outcome of Brexit. However, the number of eligibility applications approved indicates a good level of interest in the Scheme and is a good indicator of businesses engaging in Brexit preparedness. It was not possible to include primary agriculture because of the guarantee arrangements for the Scheme, which includes the EU/EIF InnovFin Programme.

I was pleased to launch the "Future Growth Loan Scheme" last week.  It has been developed by my Department and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation in partnership with the Department of Finance, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) and the European Investment Fund (EIF).  It will be delivered through participating finance providers and make up to €300 million of investment loans available to eligible Irish businesses, including farmers and the agrifood & seafood sectors.

As I said in the announcement last week, this is a long-awaited source of finance for young and new entrant farmers, especially the cohort who do not have high levels of security. It will also serve smaller-scale farmers, who often do not have the leverage to negotiate for more favourable terms with their banking institution.

I have had ongoing engagement with the banks with regard to access to finance needs in the agrifood sector.  I am pleased to see that this engagement and the delivery of the 2017 “Agriculture Cashflow Support Loan Scheme” has acted as a catalyst to encourage financial institutions to improve existing offerings and to develop new products for the sector which serve its working capital needs. A Spending Review of the Agriculture Cash Flow Loan Scheme, published in Budget 2019, concluded that this was one of its main impacts.

 In this context, the focus of the Government has been to address market gaps, the most critical of which has been identified as unsecured longer-term investment finance and this will now be addressed through the Future Growth Loan Scheme.

Inshore Fisheries

 265. 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 annual budget allocation to the inshore fisheries conservation scheme in each year since it was established by county in tabular form; the actual annual breakdown of expenditure incurred for each year by county; the 2019 budget allocation; and the number of scheme participants in each year by county. [15788/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed My Department's €240 million European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Operational Programme provides a broad range of supports to foster the sustainable development of our seafood sector.  The EMFF Inshore Fisheries Conservation scheme provides supports to the inshore fisheries sector to support the management and sustainable development of inshore fisheries and the many small vessels that depend on them. The scheme is implemented on a national basis by Bord Iascaigh Mhara.  The overall budget allocated to the scheme over the lifetime of the EMFF Programme is €6 million.

  The following table sets out details of yearly allocations, spend and number of projects.

Year Annual Budget Annual Expenditure Number of Operations
2016 €900,000 €431,960 65
2017 €900,000 €472,774  66 
2018 €900,000 €515,007  71


  An allocation of €600,000 has been requested from BIM for 2019.

Fishing Industry Data

 266. 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 his plans for the Marine Institute to carry out a study into the stock levels for each specific fishing stock species in territorial waters within zero to six nautical miles of the coast; and the estimated cost of such an exercise. [15789/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The Marine Institute supported where relevant by Bord Iascaigh Mhara, both of which are State Bodies under the aegis of my Department, carry out research in relation to stock levels around the Irish coast.

  The Marine Institute and Bord Iascaigh Mhara pool their research to publish the Shellfish Stocks and Fisheries Review series on a biennial basis.  The Review series sets out assessment and advice for a range of non-quota stocks.  The series is published online by the Marine Institute at https://oar.marine.ie.

  The Marine Institute also produces the Stock Book annually, which provides up to date scientific information on the state of the fisheries resources exploited by the Irish fleet.  The Stock Book is available electronically on the Marine Institute's web site at https://oar.marine.ie/handle/10793/1383 and this year an informatics interactive version of the Stock Book can be found at https://shiny.marine.ie/stockbook/.

  I consider that these publications will provide a good level of information in relation to the state of stocks of interest to Ireland, including inside the 6 mile zone.   Funding is provided for these agencies through my Department's vote on an annual basis. 

  The Deputy may wish to note the measures that I announced in December, excluding trawling by large vessels in coastal waters inside six nautical miles will provide ecosystem benefits, including nursery areas and juvenile fish stocks.  In environmental terms, large vessels trawling can have a significant impact both on fish stocks and on important coastal marine environments.   Following an extensive public consultation process, I announced in December that vessels over 18m will be excluded from trawling in inshore waters inside the six nautical mile zone and the baselines from 1 January 2020.  Trawling for sprat by vessels over 18m will be phased out by 31 December 2021.

Common Agricultural Policy Negotiations

 267. 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 issues discussed at the recent Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting regarding the CAP proposals published in June 2018; his views on the proposed convergence in payments to the national average by 2026; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15790/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The Council held a public exchange of views on the CAP reform package on the basis of the Romanian Presidency’s progress report, and revised drafting suggestions to the three Regulations, i.e. the CAP Strategic Plan Regulation, the Horizontal Regulation, and the Common Market Organisation Regulations.  Agriculture Ministers were invited to comment on these documents and provide guidance to the Presidency on the next steps.

With regard to the proposed convergence in payments for the CAP post-2020, the draft regulations propose a mandatory requirement for Member States to ensure that, by 2026, a minimum convergence level of 75% for all payment entitlements is achieved.   Member States will also be required to set a maximum value of individual payment entitlements.  It is proposed that the funding mechanism will be similar to the current system where payment entitlements with values above the average are reduced to fund the convergence.

This proposal builds on the current convergence path of the 2015-2020 CAP Regulations, under which all entitlements must reach a minimum value of 60% of the national average by 2019.  I am open to some further convergence in payments.

Preliminary modelling exercises have been carried out and the results of these analyses are currently being reviewed and revised to take account of the most recently available data. As the draft regulations are developed further, more detailed analyses will be completed in order to fully assess the impact on farmers in Ireland of CAP post-2020. These analyses will, in turn, inform the decisions required at that time.


Last Updated: 16/06/2020 13:47:17 First Page Previous Page Page of 66 Next Page Last Page