1. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he is taking to protect the incomes of dairy farmers in view of the sudden drop in the price of milk; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48485/14 asked on 18 Dec 2014 - Dairy Sector)

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: As the Minister is aware, Teagasc is forecasting a drop of 50% in profits in the dairy sector next year. It also forecasts that the price of milk will fall to 27 cent a litre. This is particularly challenging for farmers with high borrowings. We need to know what the Minister is doing about this at national and European level.
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2. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on the predictions of the Teagasc economics unit and the Irish Dairy Board for a lowering of dairy returns over the next year and the way he proposes to deal with this. (Question 48483/14 asked on 18 Dec 2014 - Milk Prices)

Deputy Martin Ferris: As this question is practically the same as the one the Minister has just dealt with, I will not dwell too much on it.
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3. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if tier 3 farmers are eligible to apply for the green low-carbon agri-environmental scheme; if the funding is in place to facilitate these payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48481/14 asked on 18 Dec 2014 - Green Low-carbon Agri-environment Scheme)

Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice: Many farmers around the country who do not fall into the priority 1 and priority 2 categories under the new green low-carbon agri-environmental scheme, GLAS, are very anxious. Many of these farmers were in REPS. They have small farms of 30, 40, 50 or 60 acres. Currently, they are very concerned that they are not in a position to go into the first or second priority categories. Are tier 3 farmers eligible for the green low carbon agri-environmental scheme, GLAS, an...

4. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when the rural development plan for Ireland will be approved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48486/14 asked on 18 Dec 2014 - Rural Development Programme Funding)

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: This relates to when the rural development plan for Ireland will be approved by the European Union. We debated this the last day the Minister took questions and he promised to come before the agriculture committee to outline the concerns of the European Union. Unfortunately, this has not happened. Will the Minister outline his best guess of when the rural development plan will be agreed?
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5. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will provide an update on the negotiations on the Common Fisheries Policy which took place at the meeting of the Agricultural and Fisheries Council, AGRIFISH, on 15 and 16 December 2014. (Question 48484/14 asked on 18 Dec 2014 - Common Fisheries Policy Negotiations)

Deputy Martin Ferris: At its meeting on 2 December, the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine discussed with the Minister the proposals from the Commission regarding the future of Irish fishing, cuts in quota and so forth. Following his negotiations at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 15 and 16 December, is the Minister satisfied he got the best deal possible for the Irish fishing industry into the future?
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6. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when the digitisation of all maps will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48389/14 asked on 18 Dec 2014 - Land Parcel Identification System)

Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice: Over the past few weeks, it has come to my attention that there are many farmers who have not received their direct aid scheme payments. There seems to be a problem with the digitisation of the maps. Could the Minister inform us when this will be finished and how soon the farmers will be able to get their money? If the digitisation is not done, they obviously cannot get their money.
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7. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason it is not currently the standard practice in the Irish dog racing industry to make public the results of all doping tests, positive or negative, as is the usual practice in other sports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48418/14 asked on 18 Dec 2014 - Bord na gCon Administration)

Deputy Mick Wallace: As the Minister of State is aware there are many people in Ireland who are very passionate about working with greyhounds in different facets but we have a serious problem with greyhound racing in Ireland. As the Indecon report stated the IGB was unfit for purpose. I am aware some changes have been made recently and some new people have been put in place to deal with the drug problem which is haunting the sport. Unless we get seriously improved regulation it will be hard t...

8. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he is taking to mitigate the projected drop in farm incomes in 2015 of 25% forecast by Teagasc; the amount of funding projected to be paid to farmers through his Department in direct payments next year through all schemes, including schemes under the RDP, rural development programme, compared to 2011 and 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48281/14 asked on 18 Dec 2014 - Farm Household Incomes)

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Teagasc has forecast a drop of 25% in farm incomes next year. As well as facing challenges with prices, farmers face the other challenge that the amounts paid in direct payments are consistently falling. Will the Minister outline the scale of the fall next year compared to 2011?
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9. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the effects on Irish beef producers of the Russian sanctions. (Question 48285/14 asked on 18 Dec 2014 - Beef Industry)

Deputy Martin Ferris: Given the situation in Ukraine, with sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union and the West and counter-sanctions imposed by Russia, what has been the effect on Irish farmers and food producers? Does the Minister foresee this continuing?
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10. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he has examined the proposed implementation strategy for commonages here, presented to him recently by the representatives of commonage farmers; if he accepts this strategy as the only practical way forward; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48278/14 asked on 18 Dec 2014 - Commonage Framework Plans)

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: There is significant concern among farmers in hill areas which include a large amount of commonage about the proposals for GLAS, the green, low-carbon, agri-environment scheme, mainly centred on the collective agreement aspect of the scheme. Allegations were also made by the Department that undergrazing was a major problem caused by farmers. When I sought the maps and details of the places involved, the Department could not provide them. Will the Minister clarify the posi...

11. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if payments to organic farmers processed in the Athenry office, County Galway, will be issued before Christmas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48388/14 asked on 18 Dec 2014 - Organic Farming Scheme Applications)

Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice: It has been brought to my attention that organic farmers are experiencing problems with receipt of payments, particularly in County Roscommon and western counties. There is a serious problem in Athenry at the moment and it seems the person responsible for signing off on payments in Castlebar is not doing his or her work. Can the Minister update me on whether these farmers will receive payment before Christmas?
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12. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the progress made to date to resolve the beef crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48280/14 asked on 18 Dec 2014 - Beef Industry)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): There is no doubt that this past year has been a difficult one for beef farmers as prices have dropped from the high levels of 2013. While I can have no role in negotiating the prices received by farmers, I have made every effort to ensure that we have the appropriate policy support environment in place to secure a sustainable future for all in the beef sector. I brought forward a number of initiatives as part of a €40m inves...

13. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he has reviewed the 12 point plan provided to him by the hill farmers group to provide a workable approach for farmers to be able to access the GLAS scheme; his views on adopting the options put forward; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48275/14 asked on 18 Dec 2014 - GLAS Scheme Eligibility)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Following my recent meeting with hill-farmer representatives, I have examined very carefully the 12 point ‘Proposed Implementation Strategy for Commonages in Ireland’ , on which much of our discussion centred.
The proposed measures in the new RDP, including GLAS, have been framed in light of the experience of the previous Rural Development programming period and are based on an objective analysis of sectoral needs and prioriti...

14. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will permit farmers with commonage rights attached to their farms to enter the GLAS scheme without the need for agreement of 50% of farmers grazing commonages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48273/14 asked on 18 Dec 2014 - GLAS Scheme Eligibility)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Firstly let me say that my priority is putting in place requirements for commonages that will deliver real and measurable environmental benefits and will be acceptable to the European Commission.
The proposed measures in the new RDP, including GLAS, have been framed in light of the experience of the previous Rural Development programming period and are based on an objective analysis of sectoral needs and priorities and an exte...

15. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which it has been found possible to stabilise the price of beef to the producer with particular reference to the need to arrive at a situation whereby beef producers here may expect to be paid for their produce in line with adjoining and other European jurisdictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48421/14 asked on 18 Dec 2014 - Beef Industry)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Questions of price are matters to be determined between the purchasers and the sellers of cattle. Prices are determined by supply and demand dynamics and by a range of different factors such as consumer preferences, distance to market, consumer confidence, retail promotions, competition with other meats and the overall macroeconomic situation. It is neither appropriate nor possible for me or any other Minister for Agriculture...

16. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if, in his discussion with hill sheep farmers, he will accept their proposals for the forthcoming GLAS and permit them to apply individually for the scheme on commonage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48390/14 asked on 18 Dec 2014 - Commonage Framework Plans)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Following my recent meeting with hill-farmer representatives, I have examined very carefully the 12 point Proposed Implementation Strategy for Commonages in Ireland’, on which much of our discussion centred.
The proposed measures in the new RDP, including GLAS, have been framed in light of the experience of the previous Rural Development programming period and are based on an objective analysis of sectoral needs and priorities...

17. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will provide an update on progress made in respect of the implementation of the recommendations contained in the Indecon Bord na gCon report published earlier this year, in particular the poor performance in relation to testing for doping of dogs and publication of the results; if he is satisfied that some of the recommendations will be implemented by the last quarter of 2014, as outlined in Bord na gCon’s reply to the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48417/14 asked on 18 Dec 2014 - Bord na gCon Administration)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Following the publication of the Indecon Report in July 2014, Bord na gCon submitted an action plan with timelines for implementing the 27 recommendations in the Indecon Report dealing with governance, finance, regulation and welfare. This action plan has been published on the Bord na gCon Website. 
Bord na gCon has assured my Department that it has assiduously followed up on the undertakings included in its response to the I...

18. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine arising from the recent report from Teagasc which drew attention to a serious downturn in income for dairy producers in the wake of the abolition of milk quotas, his Department’s proposals to address such issues, with particular reference to the need to ensure the future of the family farm and the importance of the dairy and agrifood sector in the context of the national economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48416/14 asked on 18 Dec 2014 - Dairy Sector)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): The dairy sector accounted for exports of over €3 billion in 2013, which is a massive contribution to the national and in particular the rural economy. We currently have almost 18,000 milk suppliers, operating predominantly from family farm supplying 90 registered milk purchasers. Total annual production currently stands at 5.4 billion litres approx, with Food Harvest 2020 targeting a 50% increase in the volume of milk produ...

19. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans regarding super-levy penalties to be imposed on Irish farmers by the EU; if he will ensure these penalties will not be imposed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48284/14 asked on 18 Dec 2014 - Milk Quota)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): As the Deputy is aware, the rules governing the imposition of a super levy fine are set by Milk Quota Regulations agreed at EU level. Under these Regulations each Member State is allocated a volume quota of milk, above which it should not produce. In cases where Member States do produce in excess of their milk quota a super levy fine (of 28 cents/litre) has to be paid to the EU Commission by the milk producers who contribute...

20. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he is taking to support a live cattle trade to Britain; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48276/14 asked on 18 Dec 2014 - Live Exports)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): I attach considerable importance to the live export trade and, over the years, my Department has been very active in facilitating both the cross border live trade and shipments abroad. Live exports serve a dual purpose as a means of satisfying market demands for live animals and providing alternative market outlets for farmers. Total live exports to the end of November this year stand at nearly 227,000 head, of which 66,000 ...

21. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a decision will be made on the application by Bord Iascaigh Mhara for a salmon farming licence in Galway Bay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48279/14 asked on 18 Dec 2014 - Aquaculture Licence Applications)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): An application by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) for an aquaculture licence for the cultivation of finfish near Inis Oirr in Galway Bay was received by my Department in 2012.  The application and its accompanying Environmental Impact Statement are being considered under the provisions of the 1997 Fisheries (Amendment) Act and the 1933 Foreshore Act.
A determination in respect of the application will be made as soon as possible foll...

22. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he is taking to support the sheep industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48277/14 asked on 18 Dec 2014 - Sheepmeat Sector)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): The industry wide strategy for developing the sheep industry in Ireland was set out in the Food Harvest 2020 document which envisages a 20% increase in value terms of the sector by 2020. My approach to building on the significant achievements of the strategy up until now is to drive the development of the industry at home and increase Ireland`s market share of the world market. This will ensure that producers and processors ...

23. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when the genomics scheme will open next year in view of the recent observations on this scheme by the European Union; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48282/14 asked on 18 Dec 2014 - Beef Data Programme)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): The Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) is proposed as an EU co-funded scheme which forms part of Ireland’s draft Rural Development Programme and will involve a budget of some €300m over a 6-year period. As announced as part of Budget 2015, I have proposed to increase the amount of money available to all farmers within the scheme to €100 a head on the first ten animals.  Further animals in the herd will be paid €80 per he...

24. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine in view of the fact that the normal practice in sports is to make public all doping tests, both positive and negative, and to disqualify those who test positive as it provides them with an unfair advantage, the reason this is currently not the standard practice in the Irish dog-racing industry; if new legislation to implement these rules is currently being formulated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48395/14 asked on 18 Dec 2014 - Bord na gCon Remit)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Bord na gCon has statutory responsibility under the Greyhound Industry Acts 1958 &1993 for the control, development and improvement of the greyhound racing industry.
Bord na gCon refers positive tests for prohibited substances to the independent Control Committee for adjudication. The findings of the Control Committee can be appealed to the Control Appeals Committee. These are statutory committees established under the Greyh...

25. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if, in its reply to the Indecon report published earlier this year, Bord na gCon outlined a schedule for the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report; if he will shed light on progress made in the implementation of recommendations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48394/14 asked on 18 Dec 2014 - Bord na gCon Administration)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): I am pleased to inform the Deputy that Bord na gCon submitted their response to the Indecon report on 10 October 2014. 
That response included a programme of action and a timeline for implementation of the recommendations in the report. The action plan is published in the “news” section on the Bord na gCon website. Bord na gCon has indicated to my Department that it is on track to meet the vast majority of its objectives for...