Written answers

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Common Agricultural Policy

Photo of Patricia RyanPatricia Ryan (Kildare South, Sinn Fein)
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248. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will advocate to make beehives a livestock unit under the new CAP proposals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23354/21]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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The Department does not currently administer any coupled support schemes for farmers based on livestock units. The EU regulations which govern the relevant schemes do allow for coupled schemes in a range of sectors. However, the Department has only taken up this option to implement a coupled scheme via the Protein Aid Scheme. This scheme provides a coupled payment for farmers who grow the eligible crops of peas, beans and lupins.

Under the €250 million Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme, there is a requirement for farmers to meet a minimum stocking density requirement of 0.15 livestock units per hectare. Given the aim of this scheme in supporting farmers on marginal lands, this minimum stocking requirement is set at a low level and derogations are available for lower requirements to apply in certain circumstances linked to the nature of the land and environmental issues.

The purpose of this minimum stocking density is to maintain an extensive level of grazing on the marginal lands in question, thus helping to mitigate the risk of land abandonment and under grazing. Substituting beehives for livestock unit in this instance would thus run counter to the design of the scheme in this regard.

I fully acknowledge the important contribution bees make to agriculture and biodiversity as both pollinators and honey producers. In this regard, the Department provides a range of supports and initiatives to encourage and assist beekeepers and the national beekeeping associations. These supports include funding to carry out applied research through the National Apiculture Programme, grants to national beekeeping associations and grant aid to fund capital investments for beekeepers. My Department is also a partner in the All Ireland Pollinator Plan 2021 – 2025 and is a member of the All-Ireland Honeybee Strategy Steering Group.


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