Thursday, 30 May 2019
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
106. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the details of the recent confirmation by the European Commission of a €50 million beef compensation aid package for Ireland; if this funding requires further formal approval at Council or Commission level; if so, the steps required; and if this funding is being granted for exceptional aid under Article 219 of (EU) Regulation No. 1308/2013. [23160/19]
107. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a 100% top-up through Exchequer funding will be provided to bring the total European Commission fund of €50 million for a beef compensation aid package for Ireland; if he has had discussions with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform in this regard; and when a formal announcement will be issued on the beef compensation package on matching funding. [23161/19]
108. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when farmers will be able to apply for the European Commission €50 million beef compensation aid package for Ireland; when compensation payments will issue; the state aid rules for producers that apply over a one year or three year period; and if factory owned or controlled feedlots will not be eligible for compensation payments. [23162/19]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 106 to 108, inclusive, together.
As the Deputy will be aware, I have had ongoing discussions with Commissioner Hogan regarding the potential impact of a disorderly Brexit. I have stressed the need for the Commission to be ready to deploy a range of measures to mitigate the potential impacts on the agri-food and fisheries sector. Avoiding a no-deal Brexit continues to be the Government’s overriding policy priority.
I am also keenly aware that the past few months have been very difficult for beef farmers in particular, following a difficult year for farm incomes in 2018 due to weather conditions. There has been a prolonged and exceptional period of depressed prices since last autumn, with the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the outcome of Brexit, among other factors, contributing to this market disturbance.
The recent announcement by Commissioner Hogan of EU exceptional aid for the Irish beef sector is really welcome in this context. I have been making the case for some time for an exceptional aid package from the EU Commission for Irish beef farmers, at EU Council of Agriculture Minister meetings, and in direct consultation with the Commission.
The announcement by the Commissioner is another example of the importance of EU solidarity when it comes to facing significant economic challenges.
Details of the proposal are being discussed with the Commission and I will make information available to farmers as soon as possible. The legal provisions used to provide the aid (Council Regulation 1308/2013) were put in place by the Irish Presidency of the EU in 2013. It is expected that this decision will be given effect through an Implementing Regulation. My officials will examine its provisions, when published, and engage with the Commission on the next steps.
Further details on the aid package will be announced in due course following the appropriate stakeholder consultation.