ASSEMBLY BUSINESS

Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Tuesday, 04 October 2011

Venue: Room 30, Parliament Buildings

2.03pm The meeting commenced in Open Session

1. Apologies

None

2.04pm William Irwin joined the meeting 
2.06pm Robin Swann joined the meeting

2. Minutes

Agreed: The Committee agreed the Minutes of the meeting of 27 September 2011.

3. Matters Arising and Correspondence

(a) Correspondence issued

The Committee noted correspondence issued since the meeting of 27 September 2011.

(b) Correspondence received

Agreed: The Committee noted the letter from the Minister in relation to the reform of CAP and agreed to request a report of the meeting with Secretary of State, Caroline Spelman, scheduled for on 25 October 2011.

Agreed: The Committee noted the letter from the Department in relation to The Wine Regulations 2011 and agreed that the Department should provide a further briefing in due course.

Noted: The Committee noted the letter from the Department in relation to the Dogs (Amendment) (2011 Act) (Commencement No.2) Order (Northern Ireland) 2011.

Noted: The Committee noted the invitation from DARD for Members to attend CAFRE’s Greenmount Campus for seminars on ‘Practical on-farm Renewable Energy’ on Tuesday 1 November.

Agreed: The Committee considered the Clerk’s memo and invitation letter from AFBI and agreed that visits should be arranged to at least 2 AFBI facilities to see work on agriculture and fishing related issues.

Agreed: The Committee considered the letter from SEAFISH in relation to a decommissioning scheme for vessels and agreed to write to the Minister to ask for details of actions planned to safeguard the existing quota and to comment on speculation about any forthcoming decommissioning scheme.

Noted: The Committee noted the letter from the Met Office in relation to preparing for winter.

Agreed: The Committee noted the letters from National Beef Association (NI Region), Mrs Mary Hunter and the ARC group in relation to the Committee’s ‘stakeholder letter’ and agreed that these submissions should form part of the Committee’s discussions, planned for 18 October.

Agreed: The Committee noted the draft itinerary for the Committee’s proposed visit to Brussels. The Committee agreed that the Chairperson should write to the Chairs of the EU’s Committees for Agriculture and Fisheries, and to the respective Commissioners to request formal meetings as part of the visit programme. The Committee also agreed that the Chairperson should write to Northern Ireland’s three MEPs and to the UK Permanent Representative in Brussels, to request their support in securing meetings. The Committee also agreed that similar letters should be issued to the European Commission’s Office in Belfast and the Office of the Northern Ireland Executive in Brussels.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the visit would only be worthwhile if meetings with the two Committees and the two Commissions could be secured.

Agreed: The Committee further agreed to write to the Department to request their EU action plan for the current year.

2.15pm Trevor Clarke joined the meeting

Noted: The Committee noted the report from RaISe on DARD’s Innovation and Evidence Stakeholder Event, held on Wednesday 28 September in Ballymena.

Agreed: The Committee considered the executive summary of the report entitled ‘Northern Ireland Agri-Food Better Regulation and Simplification Review’ and the Clerk was asked to provide full copies to those Members who requested it. The Committee also agreed that the Minister should be asked to detail the actions the Department has taken since the publication of the report.

Agreed: The Committee noted the Mid-Term Evaluation of the NIRDP, carried out by NISRA, and agreed to consider it as a substantive agenda item at a future meeting.

4. Presentation: Ulster Potato Association – Seed Potato Issues

The following witnesses joined the meeting:

James Ringrose - Export Director, U.P.A.(Ireland) Ltd
Thomas Newell - Farmer and Chairman of U.P.A.(Ireland) Ltd.
Michael Gilfedder - Solicitor, Fisher & Fisher, Newry

The witnesses briefed the Committee and this was followed by a question and answer session.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department in relation to a number of issues raised during the presentation. The Committee also agreed to call officials to brief the Committee, within the next two weeks, on the events surrounding the export of seed potatoes to Morocco in January 2010.

2.20pm Kieran McCarthy left the meeting
2.39pm Conor Murphy left the meeting 
2.53pm Kieran McCarthy re-joined the meeting 
3.26pm Tom Buchannan and Jo-Anne Dobson left the meeting

5. Presentation – DARD – Field Trials on the Storage of Poultry litter

The following officials joined the meeting:

Brian Ervine - Grade  7 - Principal Officer; and 
Siobhan Bowers - DP - Deputy Principal .

The officials briefed the Committee and this was followed by a question and answer session.

Agreed: Members agreed that the Nitrates Action Programme (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2011 should progress to the next legislative stage.

3.40pm Jo-Anne Dobson re-joined the meeting
3.43pm Dolores Kelly left the meeting 
3.55pm William Irwin and Trevor Clarke left the meeting
3.59pm Robin Swann left the meeting 
4.05pm Dolores Kelly re-joined the meeting 
4.05pm Oliver McMullan left the meeting

6. Committee Discussion - Agri-food Sector Paper

The Committee considered a paper on agri-food topics and issues which might be raised with the Minister at the meeting on 11 October. The Clerk was asked to supply Members with copies of Harvest 2020 and Focus on Food in advance of the meeting.

7. Pre-consultation: The Zoonoses Fees (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2012

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content that this matter should move to consultation stage, provided that the Department returns with a detailed analysis of consultation responses.

8. SL1: Seed Potatoes (Amendment) Regulation (NI) 2011

Agreed: Members agreed that the Seed Potatoes (Amendment) Regulation (NI) 2011 should progress to the next legislative stage. The Committee also agreed to ask if the Department had simply replicated the EU regulation, or if there had been any ‘gold-plating’. Members further agreed to ask the Department, when referring subordinate legislation to the Committee for consideration to state, as a matter of routine, if any gold-plating was being applied.

9. SL1: Plant Health (Amendment No.3) Order (NI) 2011

Agreed: Members agreed that the Plant Health (Amendment No.3) Order (NI) 2011 should progress to the next legislative stage. The Committee also agreed to ask if the Department had simply replicated the EU regulation, or if there had been any ‘gold-plating’.

10. Chairpersons Business

Agreed: The Committee noted the statement on EU fishing quotas and associated correspondence from the Department. The Committee also noted that the Department is due to brief the Members on Fishing Opportunities 2012, on 18 October, and agreed to invite ANIFPO to make a presentation on issues affecting the industry in Northern Ireland, on the same day. The Committee further agreed, in principle, to visit Ardglass, Kilkeel and Portavogie harbours, and to Lough Neagh Eel Fishery (subject to obtaining details of the Department’s remit on Lough Neagh), in due course.

Agreed: The Committee noted the report from Save the Children and agreed to revisit the report when considering relevant rural development issues and the Department’s proposed Rural White Paper Action Plan.

Noted: The Committee noted the Forward Work Programme.

11. Date of next meeting

Agreed: The next meeting of the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development will take place on Tuesday 11 October 2011, at 2.00pm, in Room 30 Parliament Buildings.

The meeting was adjourned at 4.25pm

Mr Paul Frew, Chairperson, Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development

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