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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 164-181
 Header Item Brexit Supports
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Organic Farming Scheme
 Header Item Departmental Staff
 Header Item Organic Farming Scheme
 Header Item Organic Farming Scheme
 Header Item Veterinary Medicines
 Header Item Veterinary Laboratories
 Header Item Animal Welfare
 Header Item Animal Welfare
 Header Item Animal Welfare
 Header Item Agriculture Industry
 Header Item Research and Development
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1006 No. 3
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 77 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 164-181

Brexit Supports

 164. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn Information on Pádraig Mac Lochlainn Zoom on Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if he and his Department are pursuing a multi-fund approach of both EU funding (details supplied) and the EU Recovery and Resilience fund as well as national funding such as the Rural Regeneration Fund, Shared Island Fund and town and village renewal scheme among others in order to help in alleviating the dreadful consequences for the fishing sector and communities dependent on it from the Brexit fallout. [22461/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue In February 2021, I announced the establishment of a Seafood Sector Taskforce to examine the implications of the EU/UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement for our fishing sector and the coastal communities particularly dependent on it and to make recommendations to me on initiatives that could be taken to provide supports for development and restructuring so as to ensure a profitable and sustainable fishing fleet and to identify opportunities for jobs and economic activity in coastal communities dependent on fishing. The Taskforce has been working since 10 March and is due to report in July 2021.

Notably, the terms of reference ask that the Task Force consider how all available funding streams could be used to address, to the extent possible, the initiatives identified and the State agencies to support those initiatives. The extent to which the funding streams identified by the deputy may be relevant will be dependent on the support measures recommended in due course by the Taskforce and their eligibility for funding from those sources.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 165. 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 Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if he plans to reopen the Covid-19 aquaculture support scheme in view of the continuing crisis due to Covid-19,which has seriously affected the aquaculture market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22482/21]

 166. 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 Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue his plans to provide special extra support to the farmed oyster sector in 2021 in view of the effect of Covid-19 on the market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22483/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue I propose to take Questions Nos. 165 and 166 together.

Aquaculture enterprises with a 30% reduction in turnover because of Covid-19 have been eligible to apply to Revenue under the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme, an economy-wide enterprise support that focuses primarily on business eligibility. The scheme provides a flat-rate subsidy to qualifying employers based on the numbers of eligible employees on the employer’s payroll and their gross pay.  The Pandemic Unemployment Payment has also been available to self-employed aquaculture farmers whose trading income has ceased or reduced to €960 over a rolling 8-week period, or aquaculture employees laid off because of the Pandemic. These measures continue to be available to all sectors of our economy at very considerable cost.

My Department implemented a Covid-19 Aquaculture Support Scheme in the second half of 2020 under its European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Programme. This scheme was designed to address the needs for support identified by the IFA, specifically for the shellfish farming sector. The Scheme was open to rope mussel and oyster producers and provided a fixed payment based on enterprise size (in terms of historic production levels).

Payments were calculated to compensate for lost sales arising from the Pandemic over the period February to June 2020 and ranged from €1,300 for the smallest rope mussel producers to €9,000 for the largest, while for oyster producers who have higher costs of production, payments ranged from €6,800 for the smallest producers to €16,300 for the largest. Some 152 aquaculture enterprises benefitted from the scheme at a cost of €1.2 million, with a further 4 applications under consideration within BIM. The Scheme was well received by the IFA and the aquaculture sector.

Organic Farming Scheme

 167. 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 Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if the case of a person (details supplied) will be examined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22486/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue For 2019,the organic area claimed by the above named person was 39.2 hectares. The determined area, or reference area for 2019 is 36.85 hectares. The reference area of a land parcel excludes all ineligible items. For 2019 the reference area was reduced to take account of items such as farm road, trees, streams and scrub.

  The determined area  is the area of Organic land, less land that receives a payment under the Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme. This information is supplied from the farmer's annual submission under the Basic Payment Scheme.

  When calculating an Organic Farming Scheme payment, the reference area is used in the determination of the payment due. In instances where the claimed area is greater then the reference area, a reduction and/or a penalty may apply.

   In accordance with the governing scheme conditions, where a percentage overclaim is greater than two hectares or 3% but not more than 20% of the area determined, a penalty applies.

  Accordingly as the organic claimed area in this instance was greater then the determined area by 6.38%, a reduction and penalty applied to the payment. A letter will issue to the applicant outlining the above outcome and any possible next steps open to him for follow-up.

Departmental Staff

 168. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn Information on Pádraig Mac Lochlainn Zoom on Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if his attention has been drawn to the shortage of staff in the ERAD division of the regional office in Raphoe, County Donegal; if his attention has been further drawn to the knock-on impact of these staff shortages to farmers awaiting co-operation from his Department with a range of applications and financial supports; and if these vacant positions will be filled as soon as possible. [22504/21]

 169. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn Information on Pádraig Mac Lochlainn Zoom on Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the number of staff positions that are currently vacant in the regional office of his Department in Raphoe, County Donegal; and the plans to have these positions filled. [22505/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue I propose to take Questions Nos. 168 and 169 together.

The Department is committed to ensuring that a highly skilled and motivated workforce is in place to meet business needs and uses workforce planning to identify and assess these needs for all locations. Recruitment is ongoing in the Department at present, and posts continue to be advertised either by the Public Appointments Service (PAS) or by my Department's Human Resources Division. I am acutely aware of the need for farmers to be able to avail of prompt and efficient services and all critical staffing vacancies are filled as soon as possible upon candidates becoming available.

Currently the Department’s office in Raphoe has a total of five vacancies, and work is actively ongoing to address these.

Organic Farming Scheme

 170. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the number of beef farmers participating in the organic farming scheme; the total and average payment by county in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22532/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue organicfarmscheme

  The Department does not differentiate between different animal farming enterprises for payment purposes for the Organic Farming Scheme. Many farmers in the Scheme have more than one farming enterprise listed on their organic licence and the predominant enterprise is not determined.

  The information on the table above refers to all farmers who have a bovine enterprise. The payment figure refers to the total amount of payments received by each farmer under the Scheme since the commencement of the current Rural Development Programme. The figures quoted reflect the fact that OFS contracts commenced in 2015, in 2016 and 2019.

  As the balancing payment for 2020 has not yet issued it is not included in the above table. 

Organic Farming Scheme

 171. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the number of participants and the funding allocated to the organic farming scheme in 2020; the amount allocated for 2021; the intended number of participants in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22533/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue .

  Number of participants Funding allocated per year
2020 1,530 €11.97m
2021 1,456 €10.975m
2021 OFS Application period still open €4m
  There were 1,530 participants in the Organic Farming Scheme in 2020 and a budget of €11.97m was allocated towards payments to farmers in the Scheme for that year.

  The Organic Farming Scheme contracts of 1,467 participants were due to end on 31st December 2020.  All of these farmers were offered an extension of their contract until 31st December 2021. Some 1,396 of these farmers accepted the offer of an extension. A budget of €10.975m has been allocated for payments in 2021 in respect of these participants and the participants who have a contract until 31 December 2023.

  The Organic Farming Scheme 2021 opened on 1st March and will close Friday 30 April so at this stage it is not possible to state the actual numbers applying for the scheme. I believe that the additional funding of €4 million provided for this new Scheme will facilitate the entry of 400-500 new farmers into the organic farming system.

Veterinary Medicines

 172. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the measures his Department has taken based on the European Court of Justice ruling in case C-64/20 (details supplied); if bilingual labelling on veterinary medicine products will be introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22534/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue The judgment of the European Court of Justice in case C-64-20 has been referred to the High Court, where the originating proceedings are still live. Accordingly the matter is sub judice pending the delivery of that Honourable Court’s judgment and any Orders that might be made.

Veterinary Laboratories

 173. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue his plans in relation to the proposed ten-year renewal programme of the Regional Laboratory Network ; the current stage of the programme; the achievements planned in 2021 in relation to the programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22535/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue The Department has published an ambitious modernisation programme of its Regional Laboratories.

The Programme also includes establishing five transfer-to-laboratory centres to provide a carcase drop off/collection service at strategic locations around the country to extend the reach of laboratory services to the wider farming community and make the service more accessible on a nationwide basis.

The initial 10 - year plan covered the period 2019-2028, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted on delivery of the programme and it is now anticipated that the first phase of the programme will be delivered by the end of 2022. The Department is working closely with the Office of Public Works (OPW) on delivering this first phase and this will include identifying suitable sites and commissioning two Transfer-to-Laboratory centres in the North East and the North West which are expected to be operational in 2022, subject to normal requirements associated with infrastructure projects. The Programme will be progressed in future years in line with budgetary allocations in the relevant years.

Animal Welfare

 174. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if his Department is on track to double the ex-gratia funding for animal welfare organisations by 2022; the initial figure on which the proposed doubling of funding is based; when the review of the support system for animal welfare organisations will be finished; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22536/21]

 176. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue when the review of the support system for animal welfare organisations will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22538/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue I propose to take Questions Nos. 174 and 176 together.

The Programme for Government commitment to double the funding allocated to animal welfare organisations was based on the 2020 budget allocation of €2.435m. Savings elsewhere in the Department's vote contributed to the the eventual awarding of €3.2 million to 101 organisations in 2020. A doubling of funding by 2022 would be on the basis of the initial budget allocation and based on my Department's policy objectives and financial resources available.  

The Department is close to finalising a review of our support system for animal welfare charities to ensure, in the context of increased funding  levels, that the appropriate governance arrangements are in place to ensure continued alignment with animal welfare policies objectives and priorities. The level of funding available and the disbursement method for 2021 will be determined following this review and in advance of a call for applications from welfare charities for 2021 funding.

Animal Welfare

 175. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the amount allocated to animal welfare organisations in each of the years 2016 to 2020 and to date in 2021, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22537/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue In December. 2020, I announced record funding to animal welfare bodies through out the country of €3.2 million. The table attached provides details of the breakdown of the  funding provided from 2016- 2020.

  The Programme for Government includes an undertaking to increase the funding available to animal welfare organisations  over the coming years; I am fully committed to this undertaking.

  The Department is close to finalising a review of our support system for animal welfare charities to ensure, in the context of increased funding  levels, that the appropriate governance arrangement are in place to ensure continued alignment with animal welfare policies objectives and priorities. On completion of this review the programme for support to animal welfare charities will be advertised later this year.

welfaregrants

  Question No. 176 answered with Question No. 174.

Animal Welfare

 177. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the progress made in establishing an interdepartmental group with regard to the regulation of exotic animals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22539/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue In line with the commitment in the Programme for Government and the initiative identified in the recently-launched Animal Welfare Strategy 2021-2025, my Department will take the lead in establishing an inter-departmental group to ensure a coherent national approach to policy and regulation related to exotic animals.

The focus of the group will be on regulating the keeping, breeding and trading of exotic animals. It is expected that work will begin on the initiative in the coming months.

Agriculture Industry

 178. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the work his Department has done to open new markets with stakeholders in the pig farming industry; if he has met with relevant stakeholders on this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22540/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue Increasing international market access for Irish agri-food exports is a core element of the current Food Wise strategy, which recognises that market access and development is essential to add value to the meat sector in particular. The market development part of the strategy is being implemented by a seven-point action plan launched in April 2017.

  In relation to pigmeat specifically, the work of my Department is focused not only on the development of new pigmeat markets but also on enhancing and retaining access to existing international markets. For example, in May 2020, the Mexican market was opened for raw frozen pigmeat; which was the successful culmination of engagement with internal and external stakeholders over several years. Priority markets are agreed with Industry each year and quarterly meeting are held to update against these priorities.

  The success of our pigmeat market access is reflected in the CSO trade statistics which show that Ireland exports pigmeat to some 60 countries with the top five destinations of the United Kingdom, China, Japan, Denmark and Germany. Cumulatively, these five destinations accounted for some 80% of pigmeat exports in volume terms in 2020. The value of pigmeat exports have also increased by almost 12% since 2017 with volumes remaining largely stable and averaging 278.000 tonnes annually over the same period.

  My Department continues to engage with all relevant stakeholders. My colleague Minister of State Martin Heydon T.D. chaired the newly established pig roundtable which held its inaugural meeting on 28 April. The aim of the roundtable is to facilitate and encourage constructive stakeholder engagement in progressing the development of the sector. The roundtable will meet quarterly to progress relevant actions set out in the Programme for Government. Membership of the group includes representatives from the farming and processing sectors, Teagasc, Bord Bia, and my own Department.

  Further detail on my Department’s initiatives on opening and developing overseas outlets for the agri-food sector can be found in the Market Access Report which can be accessed at following link:

  https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/53e3f-market-access-report-2019-2020/

  The Market Access Portal on my Department's website provides details on the full range of open markets and the relevant certification conditions negotiated with importing countries for a wide range of agri-food product categories.

Research and Development

 179. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if the vets that arrived in Ireland to work on a research project (details supplied) represents the original intended full cohort of vets from abroad it was intended would work on the research; if not, if the roles and activities it was envisaged by participants that have been unable to take up their positions have since been fulfilled by vets otherwise normally practicing in the State; if the State has sought to have such roles and activities fulfilled by vets normally practicing in Ireland without success; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22541/21]

 180. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if vets that arrived in Ireland to work on a research project (details supplied) are registered with the Veterinary Council; if not, the legislative or statutory framework they are practicing veterinary medicine under; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22542/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue I propose to take Questions Nos. 179 and 180 together.

This matter regards a collaborative research project being organised by Teagasc Moorepark and UCD to examine the potential role of In Vitro Embryo Production in bovines. The ultimate objective is to improve the efficiency of dairy and beef production in Ireland.

I understand the number of veterinarians that arrived in Ireland to work on this research project does not represent the original intended full cohort of veterinarians from abroad. The specialist company involved in the research had originally intended to bring in two veterinarians from South America, both highly experienced in performing procedures around harvesting oocytes (‘eggs’) from live donor female cattle and embryo transfers. One of the two veterinarians who came to Ireland, the other was unable to travel. 

All experimental procedures were approved by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), which is the competent authority in Ireland responsible for the implementation of European Union legislation (Directive 2010/63/EU) for the protection of animals used for scientific purposes (Scientific Animal Protection ). The veterinarian currently in Ireland was authorised to work on the research project by HPRA.

The embryo transfer work that the second Veterinarian was scheduled to undertake is now being carried out by individuals approved to carry out such duties on a commercial basis here in Ireland.

Regarding the veterinarian currently in Ireland , his travel was subject to Department of Justice working visa requirements and Department of Health COVID-19 guidelines.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 181. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if a further round of Covid-19 stability funding will be made available in 2021; if so, the expected date applications will open; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22399/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development (Deputy Joe O'Brien): Information on Joe O'Brien Zoom on Joe O'Brien The Government is aware of the challenges facing community and voluntary organisations and is committed to working closely with the sector in managing through these, recognising that it will require a whole of Government approach. I am pleased confirm that an additional €10m has been allocated to the Stability Fund as part of the revised Resilience and Recovery plan announced on Tuesday 23rd February by the Taoiseach.

  Please find further information at the press release below: https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/57730-ministers-humphreys-mcgrath-and-obrien-announce-10-million-in-covid-stability-funding-for-community-and-voluntary-groups/

  I plan to make an announcement on the launch of the application process shortly, with further details on how eligible organisations can apply for this funding. Pobal will again act as implementing partners, providing an online application portal. 

  I would encourage organisations to continue to engage with their Local Authorities and Local Development Companies, and to check on the Gov.ie website so that they are aware of funding opportunities as they become available.


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