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Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2000/2001

Date: 06 July 2001

Venue: Room 135

The Chairperson declared the meeting open to the public at 10.08am.
Mr Armstrong and Mr McHugh attended the meeting at 10.10am.

1. Minutes of Proceedings on 29 June 2001.

1.1. Resolved: that the draft Minutes of Proceedings for 29 June 2001 were approved.

2. Matters arising from the Minutes of Proceedings on 29 June 2001.

2.1. Correspondence. Members noted a letter to DARD seeking a further update on those Key Challenges not met during 2000/2001 and a letter seeking answers to questions in relation to DARD's draft Budget for 2002/2003.

2.2. Foot and Mouth Disease update. Members noted and discussed a written update from the Minister on the current foot and mouth disease situation.

Resolved: that the Chairperson would write to the Minister about the continuing restrictions on sheep sales; farmers not being able to bring unsold cattle back home from the Livestock Marts; the costs incurred by farmers within the restriction zones who are having to cleanse their farms due to the foot and mouth disease outbreak; and the 20-day holding period.

Resolved: that the Committee would arrange a meeting with the Vision Group as soon as they publish their report in September 2001.

2.3. Fisheries Issues. Members noted policy papers from DARD on the Fishing Vessels Decommissioning Scheme, a brief note of telephone conversations the Clerk had with the two fish producers' organisations and also a written note from the Assembly Legal Adviser on how the Committee should proceed.

Resolved: that, in view of the advice received from the Assembly Legal Adviser, the Committee would not further pursue sight of the Minister's legal advice.

Resolved: that the Clerk was instructed to approach the Clerk Assistant with a view to arranging a meeting between the Assembly Legal Adviser and the Committee early in the next session.

Resolved: that in view of the most recent comments by representatives of the Fish Producer organisations, and the Department's stated intention to consult the industry on its final draft proposals, the Chairperson should write to the Minister advising that the Committee is content for DARD to proceed with the Fishing Vessels Decommissioning Scheme.

Resolved: that full copies of the policy papers received by the Chairperson should be distributed to members during recess and members to note the Department's request regarding "commercially sensitive" papers.

The Chairperson left the meeting at 10.39am and the Deputy Chairperson assumed the chair.

2.4. DARD Programme for Government and Financial Year Bids for 2002/2003. The Members considered and discussed their draft response to the Committee for Finance and Personnel on DARD's draft Budget for 2002/2003 and also their draft response to the OFMDFM on the Programme for Government, and agreed amendments.

Mr Ford left the meeting at 10.49am. The Chairperson returned to the meeting at 10.51am and assumed the chair.

Resolved: that the draft response to the Committee for Finance and Personnel on DARD's draft Budget for 2002/2003 be issued as amended.

Mr Ford returned to the meeting at 10.58am.

Resolved: that the draft response to the OFMDFM on the Programme for Government be issued.

Resolved: that copies of these responses would be sent to the Minister.

Resolved: that, in view of the significant and on-going budgetary requirements for animal disease compensation, the Committee should meet early in the next session with the DARD Review Group, who are looking at TB and brucellosis eradication.

Mr Ford left the meeting at 11.36am.

3. Statutory Rules.

3.1. The Beef Labelling (Enforcement) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001 - draft Rule. The Chairperson welcomed DARD officials Mr Liam McKibben and Mr William Campton to the meeting at 11.36am.

3.2. Mr McKibben explained the purpose of the proposed Rule. Mr McKibben and Mr Campton then answered questions from the members, who complimented the Department on the clarity and usefulness of the accompanying explanatory booklet on beef labelling.

The Chairperson left the meeting at 12.04pm and the Deputy Chairperson assumed the chair. The Chairperson returned to the meeting at 12.06pm and assumed the chair.

3.3. Members deliberated.

3.4. Resolved: that the Committee was content for DARD to proceed to make The Beef Labelling (Enforcement) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001.

3.5. The Chairperson thanked the DARD officials and they left the meeting at 12.07pm. The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at that point.

The Chairperson called the meeting to order at 12.09pm with Messrs Douglas, Kane, McHugh and Savage present.

3.6. Plant Protection Products (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001 - draft Rule. Members considered a proposal for the Plant Protection Products (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001.

Resolved: that the Committee is content for DARD to proceed to make the Rule.

Mr Armstrong returned to the meeting at 12.10pm.

3.7. Welfare of Farmed Animals (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001 - draft Rule. Members noted the proposed Welfare of Farmed Animals (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001, the supplementary Regulatory Impact Assessment and a new draft Code of Recommendations for the Welfare of Livestock - Laying Hens.

Resolved: that the Clerks would write to DARD requesting the results of DARD's consultation for consideration by the Committee and invite officials to discuss the results of the consultation in the next session.

3.8. Catering Waste (Feeding to Livestock) Order (Northern Ireland) 2001. Members noted a summary of the responses to the consultation on a ban on swill feeding and also a copy of the Catering Waste (Feeding to Livestock) Order (Northern Ireland) 2001.

4. Any Other Business.

4.1. Rural Development (Financial Assistance) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001 - draft Rule. Members noted a response from DARD to Committee questions about appeals mechanisms following discussions with officials on Friday 22 June 2001 on proposals for the Rural Development (Financial Assistance) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001 and considered the proposed Rule.

Resolved: that the Committee is content for DARD to proceed to make the Rule.

Resolved: that a meeting would be arranged with representatives of the Northern Ireland Bankers Association in the new session to discuss continuing support for the farming industry.

Mr Armstrong left the meeting at 12.20pm.

4.2. Consultation Exercise on Draft Code of Practice for Farm Subsidy Payments. Members noted the Draft Code of Practice for Farm Subsidy Payments and also DARD's proposal to issue the draft Code of Practice to the industry for comments.

Resolved: that the Committee would seek a report on the outcome of the consultation exercise and consider meeting with officials from DARD in October 2001, if necessary.

4.3. Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme. Members noted a letter from the Minister updating the Committee on the progress of the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme, a copy of the Minister's letter inviting applications under the LEADER+ Programme, a copy of Annex A (eligibility criteria) and Annex B (selection criteria), taken from the sample application pack received in the Committee office.

Resolved: that a sample application pack would be requested from DARD for each Committee member and distributed to members during recess..

4.4. Conference on the EU Common Fisheries Policy After 2002. Members noted a conference on "The EU Common Fisheries Policy after 2002: the Scope for Change" to be held from 23-26 July 2001 at Wilton Park, West Sussex which was brought to their attention by the Assembly Research Services.

Resolved: that a member, who was not present at the meeting, but was known to have a specific interest in the subject, was nominated to attend the conference on behalf of the Committee, if available.

4.5. Conference on the Future of Food and Farming. A member inquired if any members were planning to attend the conference on the future of food and farming to be held in the QE11 Conference Centre, London on the 17 July 2001. Members deliberated

Resolved: that Mr Douglas would attend on behalf of the Committee.

4.6. South Armagh Cull. Members noted a letter from the Minister about allegations of fraud being overlooked during the cull of animals in South Armagh and the possibility of the Committee taking evidence from DARD employees in relation to this.

Resolved: that the Committee would review this item in the next session after receiving DARD's overall analysis of subsidy claims and the Chairperson would write to the Minister to that effect.

4.7. Committee Inquiry into Certain Aspects of the Livestock and Meat Commission. Members were provided with the first draft of the report for their consideration over the Summer recess. A member raised the possibility of the Committee taking further evidence as part of the Inquiry in the next session.

Resolved: that the Committee would consider any further evidence received in relation to the Terms of Reference for the Inquiry and decide if further evidence sessions are required.

5. Date of Next Meeting.

5.1. Resolved: that the next meeting will take place on Friday 7 September 2001 in Room 135, Parliament Buildings, at 10.00am.

The Chairperson brought the meeting to a close at 12.36pm.

Ian R K Paisley
Chairperson

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