ASSEMBLY BUSINESS

Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Venue: Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings

2.04pm The meeting commenced in Open Session

1. Apologies

Mrs Dolores Kelly MLA (Deputy Chairperson)

2. Minutes

Agreed: The Committee agreed the Minutes of the meeting of 4 October 2011.

3. Matters Arising and Correspondence

Agreed: The Committee agreed to a request to forward the Ulster Potato Association papers to the Department. The Committee further agreed to make the Ulster Potato Association aware that the Department will brief the Committee on the issue at the meeting on 18 October 2011.

(a) Correspondence issued

The Committee noted correspondence issued since the meeting on 4 October 2011.

(b) Correspondence received

Noted: The Committee noted the letter from Edward Davey MP, in relation to the Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill.

Agreed: The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for Social Development in relation to a Fuel Poverty event. Members agreed to suggest DARD Officials, Ulster Farmers Union, Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association, Rural Community Network, Rural Development Council and Rural Support should be invited to attend

Agreed: The Committee noted the memo from the Chairperson of the OFMDFM Committee in relation to its visit to Brussels at the end of October and agreed that the Chairpersons should meet to discuss their respective remits and European priorities. The Committee further agreed to forward the Committee’s position paper on CAP Reform to the OFMDFM Committee for information.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to move to agenda item 4.

4. Ministerial Presentation: Agri-Food Sector

The Minister and her officials joined the meeting:

Michelle O’Neill MLA - Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development;
Gerry Lavery - Permanent Secretary;
Dr Mark Browne - Grade 3, Deputy Secretary.

The Minister briefed the Committee on her vision for the Agri-Food Sector and asked for the Committee’s support. This was followed by a question and answer session with the Minister and officials during which Members raised some specific issues including the closed period for spreading slurry, poultry litter and the export of seed potatoes to Morrocco.

Agreed: Following a suggestion from the Minister, the Committee agreed to write to the EFRA Committee about the inclusion of 3 rd party representation in the Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that targets in any strategy should be industry led and that the principles of the strategy should be embedded in the Programme for Government.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister to seek further information on the Food Strategy Board, including clarity on the terms of reference, membership and job description of the chairperson, and deferred any decision on offering unqualified support for the vision until more details were provided.

2.15pm William Irwin joined the meeting
2.27pm Thomas Buchanan joined the meeting
2.33pm Conor Murphy left the meeting
2.40pm Trevor Clarke joined the meeting
2.46pm Oliver McMullan joined the meeting
2.50pm Conor Murphy re-joined the meeting

Agreed: The Committee agreed to return to agenda item 3.

3. Matters Arising and Correspondence (Continued)

(b) Correspondence received

Agreed: The Committee noted correspondence from Margaret Ritchie MP, requesting that the Committee look at which programmes are being adopted by the Department and other legislatures about Animal Health. The Committee agreed to commission a research paper on the different animal health programme used in GB and ROI.

Agreed: The Committee noted the DALO letter (29 September) regarding its meeting on 13 September and agreed to seek further clarity and information on single farm payment appeals, gorse fires and Category 3 animal by-products and to write to the Minister.

Jo-Anne Dobson, William Irwin and Kieran McCarthy declared interests as beneficiaries of single farm payments.

Agreed: The Committee noted the DALO letter (6 October) regarding its meeting on 20 September and agreed to raise some issues with the Department about the response on Bovine TB.

Agreed: The Committee noted the letter from the Department in relation to the future of Seafish and agreed that the Committee should request to be copied into any reply the Department may make to DEFRA.

Noted: The Committee noted letters from Farmers for Action.

5. Presentation – Rural Community Network– Key Areas

The following witnesses joined the meeting:

Michael Hughes, Rural Community Network
Mr Aidan Campbell, Rural Community Network

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

3.45pm William Irwin left the meeting
4.10pm Kieran McCarthy left the meeting
4.16pm Jo-Anne Dobson left the meeting
4.23pm Oliver McMullan left the meeting
4.25pm Kieran McCarthy re- joined the meeting
4.25pm Conor Murphy left the meeting
4.30pm Trevor Clarke left the meeting
4.31pm Jo-Anne Dobson re-joined the meeting
4.32pm William Irwin re-joined the meeting

Agreed: The Committee agreed to explore the possibility for creating a credit facility within the terms of the NIRDP and agreed to raise the matter with the Minister.

6. RSPB – Working with the Agri- Sector/CAP reform

The following witnesses joined the meeting:

Colum Delaney, RSPB
Anne-Marie McDevitt, RSPB
John Martin, RSPB

The witnesses briefed the Committee and this was followed by a question and answer session during which the RSPB undertook to write to the Committee on a number of issues.

7. Presentation – DARD – Cockle Fishery Belfast Lough

The following officials joined the meeting:

Paddy Campbell - DP - Deputy Principal.
Matt Service, Principal Scientific Officer, Agri-food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI).

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

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister to express disappointment in relation to the outcome of the AFBI report into a sustainable Belfast Cockle Fishery.

8. Research Paper – Rural Crime

The Committee considered, and the Assembly Research and Information Service Officer answered questions on, the Rural Crime paper.

Agreed: Members agreed to write to the Minster to ask for an update to the Committee letter of 20 September 2011 requesting her to make representations on the matter of Rural Crime to the Justice Minster.

9. Rivers Agency – Role, function & responsibility

The Committee considered, and the Assembly Research and Information Service Officer answered questions on, the Rivers Agency paper in conjunction with the associated responses from the Department.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward the research paper to the Department and to seek some clarification on a number of issues.

Paul Frew declared an interest as a member of Ballymena Borough Council

10. NIRDP – Mid–term Evaluation Report

The Committee considered the NIRDP Mid–term Evaluation Report

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister asking for a detailed progress report on the actions taken by her Department in relation to the main findings, paying particular attention to recommendations relevant to Axis 3 and to ask for an up to date position on spending on the programme in 2011/2012.

11. Chairpersons Business

Agreed: The Chairperson reported on his meeting with Mr Justin King, the Chief Executive of Sainsbury’s PLC. The Committee agreed to write to Mr King on the issue of the Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill .

Agreed: The Committee considered the Minister for Environment’s statement of 11 October 2011 on the Nitrates Directive. The Committee agreed to write to the Minister, through the Environment Committee, to express concern about the statement and to seek clarification on it.

5.55pm Willie Clarke left the meeting

12. AOB

Agreed: The Committee noted the Committee’s Forward Work Programme and agreed to invite the UFU to give their assessment of the EU CAP legislative proposals at its meeting of the 8 November 2011.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to issue a press release on the Ministerial Briefing on Agri-Food.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to consider an earlier start time in order to have a substantive discussion on the stakeholder responses on the Committee’s priorities at the meeting on 25 October 2011.

13. Date of next meeting

Agreed: The next meeting of the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development will take place on Tuesday 18 October 2011, at 1.00pm, or 1.30pm, in Room 30 Parliament Buildings.

The meeting was adjourned at 6.10pm

Dolores Kelly,
Deputy Chairperson,
Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development

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