ASSEMBLY BUSINESS

Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Venue: Room 30

1.34 pm The meeting commenced in Open Session

1. Apologies

There were no apologies.

2. Chairperson’s business

Agreed: The Committee agreed the draft Press Release for the Greening the CAP Seminar on 6 March 2012.

Agreed: The Committee noted the correspondence from the ETI Committee on Bord Bia Quality Assurance and agreed that the Chairperson should meet with the Chairperson of the ETI Committee to discuss the issue further.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to hold a committee meeting at the Balmoral Show on 17 Mary 2012 and agreed to share the cost of the hire for a marquee with other committees.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that 15 University of Ulster students could attend the Committee meeting on 13 March to take minutes and receive a copy of the Chairperson’s brief as part of their assessment.

The Chairperson advised the Committee that he had met with the Limousin Club regarding pedigree breeding.

1.40 p.m. Ms Boyle and Mr McMullan joined the meeting.

The Chairperson advised the Committee that he and the Deputy Chairperson had met informally with the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the Justice Committee to discuss rural crime.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Justice Committee to advise that the informal meeting has taken place and to ask the Justice Committee to consider exploring the issue of rural crime via Community Safety Partnerships.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to request a copy of the note of the meeting the Minister had with the PSNI regarding rural crime and upon receipt a cross party group from the Committee will meet with the PSNI and Policing Board to informally discuss the brief and related issues.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister to ask her to consider links between the Rural Development Programme and Community Safety.

3. Minutes

Agreed: The Committee agreed the Minutes of the meeting of 14 February 2012.

1.43 p.m. Mr Buchanan and Mrs Kelly joined the meeting.

4. Matters arising

Noted:   The Committee noted the correspondence from the Department dated 9 February 2012 regarding discussions with Secretary of State Defra, the establishment of the Food Strategy Board, Bord Bia and Farmers Markets.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to request information on the number of councils which availed of the Department’s financial support for the purposes of staging speciality markets.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister to ask if she can share her diary commitments in relation to attendance at rural shows.

Noted: The Committee noted the correspondence from the Department dated 23 February 2012 regarding the rejection of seed potatoes at a Moroccan port, Draft EU Priorities, Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment and the EU Pig Welfare Directive.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write the Department to seek clarification on the measures which are in place for homes which fall outside of the flood alleviation scheme and ascertain what financial assistance is available to householders when flooding affects septic tanks.           

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to request further information on the implementation of the EU Pig Directive in other EU Member States, what the anticipated costs to the industry are, and if any financial assistance will be available to pig farmers affected by the Directive.    

The Chairperson reported on the Stakeholder event on 16 February 2012 and advised that upon receipt of the notes of the event

The Committee will consider the next course of action.

2.04 p.m. Mr T Clarke joined the meeting.

5. Revised Compensation arrangements for TB and Brucellosis

The Assembly Research and Information Officer briefed the Committee on the revised compensation arrangements for TB and Brucellosis. This was followed by a question and answer session with Committee Members.

The following departmental officials joined the meeting:

Collette McMaster, Assistant Secretary
Owen Denny, Senior Principal Veterinary Officer
Ian McKee, Principal Officer

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

6. Departmental briefing – Schmallenberg Virus

The following departmental officials joined the meeting:

Jackie Robinson, Grade 7, Animal Disease Control

Ignatius McKeown, Veterinary Officer

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

Agreed: The officials agreed to update the Committee on the Schmallenberg Virus on a monthly basis or more frequently if the circumstances change.

7. The Draft Programme for Government: DARD’s targets

The Assembly Research and Information Officer briefed the Committee on the Programme for Government – Previous Performance and Future Priorities for DARD. This was followed by a question and answer session.

The following departmental officials joined the meeting:

Pauline Keegan, Assistant Secretary
Keith Morrison, Assistant Secretary
Graeme Wilkinson, Assistant Secretary
Owen Denny, Senior Veterinary Officer
Paul Donnelly, Principal Officer

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

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to request details of the proposals made for the Programme for Government which were not accepted and why the eradication of Bovine TB, which had been a target in the previous Programme for Government, has been omitted from the current set of targets.

8. The Executive’s European Priorities

The Committee discussed a number of issues which they felt should be included in the Committee’s response to the Department on the Draft European Priorities 2012-2013.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the Clerk would draft the reply to the Department, incorporating the suggested comments and copy the reply to the OFMDFM Committee.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to seek comments from Professor Elliott, QUB on the Executive’s European Priorities.

9.  SL1: The Zoonoses (Fees) Regulations (NI) 2012

The Committee considered The Zoonoses (Fees) Regulations (NI) 2012 and were content with the policy merits of the proposals as set out in the SL1.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to seek clarification on why some of the uplifts are set at 40%.

10. SR: The Welfare of Farmed Animals Regulations (NI) 2012

Question put and agreed:

That the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development has considered the Welfare of Farmed Animals Regulations (NI) 2012 and recommends that it is affirmed by the Assembly.

11. SR12/2012: The Plant Protection products (Amendment) Regulations (NI)

Question put and agreed:

That the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development has considered SR 12/2012 the Plant Protection Products (Amendment) Regulations (NI) and has no objection to the rule.

12. Correspondence

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to seek clarification on the policy for attendance at agriculture shows and to ask if re-engagement with Northern Ireland Ploughing Competitions is under further consideration.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward the correspondence from the Social Development Committee regarding housing targets in rural areas to the Department for comment.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment to seek clarity on how local companies are made aware of overseas promotional opportunities and what selection process is in place for international trade events.

Noted: The Committee noted the correspondence from the Department regarding research published on the DARD website regarding the development of an Education Strategy.

Noted: The Committee noted the correspondence from the Department regarding the Equality Impact Assessment on the Farm Modernisation Programme Tranche 3.

Noted: The Committee noted the correspondence from the Clerk to the Environment Committee regarding the Rose Energy Incinerator Plant.

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

Noted: The Committee noted the correspondence from the Clerk to the

Environment Committee regarding Oil Firing Technical Association.

Agreed: The Committee noted the correspondence from the Committee for Finance and Personnel regarding outstanding Post Project Evaluations (PPEs) and agreed to write to the Department to request further information on the ten DARD PPEs still outstanding.

Noted: The Committee noted the correspondence from Margaret Ritchie MP MLA regarding a meeting with the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson.

Noted: The Committee noted the correspondence from the Minister regarding the InterTradeIreland Agri-Food: A Study for Cross Border Co-Operation.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department regarding the Proposed Financial Correction: 2009 Area Aids and ask if other schemes will be disadvantaged as a result of money committed to paying financial corrections. The Committee also agreed that in the proposed briefing on Single Farm Payments on 20 March, officials should address issues surrounding advance Single Farm Payments, the appeals mechanism and the legal challenge which has been mounted against the Department.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward the correspondence from the Enterprise, Trade and Investment Committee regarding the Committee Inquiry into Innovation, Research and Development to the Department.

13. Forward Work Programme

Agreed: The Committee agreed the Forward Work Programme

Agreed: The Committee agreed to have the Departmental briefing on Strangford Lough in closed session.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to have a further discussion on thematic reviews at the meeting on 13 March 2012.

14. Any other business

There was no other business.

15. Date and time of the next meeting

Agreed: The next meeting of the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development will take place on Tuesday 13 March 2012, at 1.30pm, Room 30 Parliament Buildings.

The meeting was adjourned at 5.13 pm

Paul Frew, Chairperson, Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development

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