ASSEMBLY BUSINESS

Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: Tuesday, 09 April 2013

Venue: Room 30, Parliament Buildings

1:30 p.m. The meeting commenced in Open Session

1. Apologies

The apologies are recorded above.

2. Chairperson's Business

Agreed: Members agreed that the Committee will write to DARD to establish what DARD are doing regarding opening the Chinese market for Northern Ireland companies and what are the hurdles and administrative issues that companies need to address to gain Chinese approval.

3. Minutes of the meetings 19th March and 28th March 2013

Agreed: The Committee agreed the minutes of the meetings held on 19th March and 28th March 2013.

4. Matters Arising

Agreed: The Committee noted a letter from DARD dated 19th March 2013 providing a written update requested by the Committee following its briefing on the technical problems associated with the LPIS map on 26th February and agreed to write to DARD asking for a full description of the technical problems and what steps are being taken to ensure that this does not happen again.

Noted: The Committee noted a letter from DARD dated 20th March 2013 providing information on the opening of the 2013 Single Application Process covering the Single Farm Payment, LFACA and the Countryside Management Scheme.

Noted: The Committee noted a letter from DARD dated 20th March 2013 regarding Schmallenberg and the fact that a second case has been recorded in Northern Ireland.

Noted: The Committee noted the letter from DARD dated 20th March 2013 regarding the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020.

Noted: The Committee noted information from DARD regarding the Ash Dieback situation as of 28th March 2013.

Agreed: The Committee noted the letter from DARD regarding the Proposed Financial Corrections on the 2009 Cross Compliance Audit and agreed to ask DARD about the difference between the €2.6m it has set aside and the €3.985m penalty.

Noted: The Committee noted a letter from DARD dated 29th March 2013 in response to issues raised at the meeting on 12th March.

Agreed: The Committee noted a letter from DARD dated 29th March 2013 in response to issues raised at the meeting on 5th March and agreed to forward the information on CAFRE sporting facilities to the CAL Committee.

Noted: The Committee noted a letter from DFP in response to the Committee request regarding locally grown trees and pre contracts to be used as part of the evidence in the Committee Review of Tree Disease.

Agreed: The Committee noted the letter from IEF and agreed to arrange a lunchtime meeting with representatives of IEF and RCN.

Agreed: The Committee noted a letter from DFP dated 22nd March 2013 on the DARD HQ relocation and agreed to ask for information on the four building options identified.

Agreed: The Committee noted a letter from the Countryside Alliance and agreed to forward it to the Minister to assist her in the formal response to the USPCA claims.

Agreed: The Committee noted papers from an informal meeting with Mourne Farmers on 4th March and agreed to forward the note to the Minister for information purposes.

5. Oral Briefing DARD: Various Forestry Secondary Legislation

The following Departmental officials joined the meeting at 1.37 p.m:

Malcolm Beatty - Grade 5, Chief Executive, Forest Service;
John Joe O'Boyle - Grade 6, Director of Forestry; Forest Service;
Michael McCann – DP, Deputy Principal, Forest Service.

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

1.40 p.m. Mr Thomas Buchanan joined the meeting
1.52 p.m. Mrs Jo-Anne Dobson left the meeting.
1.56 p.m. Mr Declan McAleer and Mr Chris Hazzard left the meeting.

The Committee considered the SL1 Forestry (Felling of Trees) regulations (NI) 2013 and were content with the merits of the policy.

The Committee considered the SL1 Forestry (Felling of Trees) (Calculation of the Area of Land) Regulations (NI) 2013 and were content with the merits of the policy.

The Committee considered the SL1 Forestry (2010 Act) (Commencement No.3) Order (NI) 2013 and were content with the merits of the policy.

6. Oral Briefing DARD: DARD Business Plan 2013/14

The following Departmental officials joined the meeting at 2.05 p.m:

Graeme Wilkinson - Grade 5, Assistant Secretary; and
Tom Rodgers - Grade 7, Principal Officer.

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

2.18 p.m. Mr Chris Hazzard re-joined the meeting.
2.25 p.m. Mr Joe Byrne left the meeting

Agreed: The Committee agreed to request from the Department a copy of the Corporate Balance Score Card.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to request from the Department information on the area in agri-environment schemes over the past three years.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to request from the Department a breakdown of the target for the 2013/14 Savings Plan.

7. Committee Review on Tree Disease

The Assembly Research Officer briefed the Committee on tree disease and this was followed by a question and answer session.

2.40 p.m. Mr Joe Byrne re-joined the meeting.
2.42 p.m. Mr Declan McAleer re-joined the meeting.
2.44 p.m. Mr Robin Swann joined the meeting.
2.46 p.m. Mrs Jo-Anne Dobson re-joined the meeting.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to request from Assembly Research and Information Service further information on which research bodies are looking at tree diseases, how they share information, and how much money is being spent in the USA on P Ramorum.

8. Written update from DARD on response to severe weather

Noted: The Committee noted the briefing from the Department on the response to the severe weather.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to request an oral briefing from the Department on this issue next week and to inform the Department of issues that are likely to arise during the briefing session.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to invite the National Sheep Association for Northern Ireland to present at its next meeting, on 16th April.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it would have a lunchtime meeting with the South Down hill farmers group ahead of the next Committee meeting, to discuss their concerns.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to request from Assembly Research and Information Service information on the de minimus levels and whether there is provision for this to be set aside.

3.30 p.m. Mrs Jo-Anne Dobson and Mr Chris Hazzard left the meeting.

9. Report from Deputy Chairperson on the Dairy Industry

Noted: The Committee noted the report from the Deputy Chairperson on the dairy industry, based on the conference he attended on behalf of the Committee in Dublin. The Deputy Chairperson recorded his thanks to the Committee Clerk for her support in preparing this report.

10. Written Brief: EQIA DARD HQ relocation

Noted: The Committee noted the papers from DARD on its intention to hold an EQIA on the DARD HQ relocation.

11. Public Petition Strabane Campaign for Jobs

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister asking for a response to the Committee regarding the Public Petition on 'Strabane Campaign for Jobs' presented to the Assembly by Mr Joe Byrne on 19th March 2013, which was forwarded to the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development.

12. SL1 Plant Health (Amendment No.2) Order (NI) 2013

The Committee considered the SL1 Plant Health (Amendment No.2) Order (NI) 2013 and were content with the merits of the policy.

13. Correspondence

Noted: The Committee noted the correspondence from DFP on the Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland, Investing Activity Report for DARD.

14. Responses from the Supermarkets on the Beef Contamination Issue

Agreed: The Committee noted the responses to its request for further information on contamination of beef products with horsemeat from Northern Ireland Retail Consortium, ASDA, Iceland, LIDL, M&S, Sainsbury's and TESCO and agreed to put these responses on the Committee website.

15. AOB

Agreed: The Committee agreed to contact DARD to find out when the Minister will next come to the Committee.

The Committee moved into closed session at 3.41pm

16. Forward Work Programme

Agreed: The Committee agreed the Forward Work Programme, with amendments to allow for the additional sessions to be held on 16th April 2013 on the severe weather.

Agreed: The Committee agreed the press release on the visit to Belfast Port and Woodburn Forest.

17. Date of the next meeting

Agreed: The next meeting of the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development will take place on Tuesday 16th April 2013 at 1.30p.m. in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.

The meeting adjourned at 3.47 p.m.

Paul Frew, Chairperson, Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development

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