Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 07 June 2011

Venue: Room 30, Parliament Buildings

2.00pm The meeting commenced in Open Session

1. Apologies

None.

2. Minutes

Agreed: The Committee agreed the Minutes of the meeting of 7 June 2011.

3. Correspondence

(a) Correspondence issued

The Committee noted correspondence issued since the meeting of 31 May 2011.

(b) Correspondence received

The Committee noted correspondence received since the meeting of 31 May 2011.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to deal with correspondence from the Committee for Finance and Personnel, re. Budget (No.2) Bill, as a substantive agenda item.

Agreed: The Committee considered correspondence about a Legislative Consent Motion relating to the Mutual Assistance Recovery Directive and agreed to forward a reply, as drafted, to the Committee for Finance and Personnel.

Noted: The Committee noted the weekly update on Bluetongue.

Noted: The Committee noted the terms of the Select Committee’s announcement about its report on Domestic Fisheries Management.

Agreed: Members agreed to extend an invitation to the Ulster Farmers Union to brief the Committee, ideally at its meeting on 14 June 2011.

Agreed: The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for OFMdFM about Arm’s Length Bodies and agreed that the Department should be encouraged to undertake rigorous reviews of those bodies for which it has responsibility. The Committee further agreed to request a list of Arm’s Length Bodies from the Department.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to receive a briefing from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and further agreed that the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety be advised accordingly.

4. DARD Reservoir Safety Regulations

The following Officials joined the meeting:

David Porter – Director of Development, Rivers Agency; and 
Averil Gaw – Principal Officer, Rivers Agency.

Officials briefed the Committee on proposals for Reservoir Safety Regulations and this was followed by a question and answer session.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the Department should be asked to provide a written brief detailing the timescale for the legislation, the definition of a reservoir and the details of current usage of the 104 privately owned reservoirs.

2:21pm Mr T Clarke left the meeting.

5. DARD Single Farm Payments (Recorded by the Office of the Official Report)

The following Officials joined the meeting:

Andrew Elliott – Director of Rural Payments; 
Valerie Bell – Principal Officer; and 
Bregeen Glendinning – Principal Officer.

Officials gave a presentation on the Single Farm Payment Scheme and this was followed by a question and answer session.

Mr Irwin declared an interest

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the Department should be asked to provide a paper which, defined land eligibility and rules on the admissibility of claims. The Committee also agreed to seek a report on the payment of claims for 2010, in time for consideration at its first scheduled meeting after the summer recess.

2:50pm Mrs Dobson left the meeting. 
3:03pm Mr T Clarke re-joined the meeting.

6. DARD Common Agricultural Policy Reform (Recorded by the Office of the Official Report)

The following Officials joined the meeting:

Norman Fulton – Chief Agricultural Economist; 
Seamus McErlean – Principal Agricultural Economist; and 
Mark McLean – Senior Agricultural Economist.

Officials gave a presentation on the Common Agricultural Policy and this was followed by a question and answer session.

Mr Swann declared an interest

3:34pm Mr McCarthy joined the meeting. 
3:43pm Mr T Clarke left the meeting. 
3:46pm Mr Irwin left the meeting. 
4:05pm Mr Murphy left the meeting.

7. DARD Legislation and Policy (Recorded by the Office of the Official Report)

The following Officials joined the meeting for a presentation in 2 parts:

Part 1:

Dr Mark Browne – Deputy Secretary (Policy); 
Kate Davey – Principal Officer; 
Ian McKee – Principal Officer; and 
Roly Harwood – Veterinary Officer.

Part 2:

Dr Mark Browne – Deputy Secretary (Policy); 
Dr John Speers – Director of Farm, Food and Environmental Policy; 
Dr Sinclair Mayne – Departmental Scientific Advisor; and 
Joyce Rutherford – Deputy Principal.

Officials gave an overview of a wide range of Legislation and Policy issues and this was followed by a question and answer session.

4:07pm Mr Swann left the meeting. 
4:30pm Mr McMullan left the meeting. 
4:37pm Mrs Dobson joined the meeting. 
4:37pm Mr Swann and Mr Irwin re-joined the meeting. 
5:05pm Mr McMullan re-joined the meeting.

8. DARD Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy Testing of Cattle

The following Officials joined the meeting:

John Terrington – Principal Officer; 
Seamus Kelly – Deputy Principal; and 
Jonathan Guy – Divisional Veterinary Officer.

Officials briefed the Committee on the proposed policy changes for the testing of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) and this was followed by a question and answer session.

Agreed: The Committee agreed it was content with the proposal to increase the age threshold for BSE testing of all healthy slaughtered cattle for human consumption from over 48 months to over 72 months.

Agreed: The Committee further agreed, in principle, that it would be acceptable to move to testing these cattle on a sample basis from January 2013, subject to confirmation, before the change is implemented, that there has been no change in the risk assessment.

4:45pm Mrs Kelly left the meeting. 
4:50pm Mr Buchanan left the meeting. 
4:55pm Mr Irwin left the meeting.

9. Budget Settlement and Savings Plans & Excess Votes

There was some discussion on the Budget Settlement and Savings Plans and Excess Votes.

Agreed: Members agreed that the Chairperson should reflect the views of the Committee in the forthcoming Supply Resolution debate.

Agreed: Members agreed to note the fact that the previous Committee had been advised of an Excess Vote in 2009/2010.

Agreed: The Committee noted that the Public Accounts Committee, PAC, is actively considering matters relating to the financial management concerns associated with the Excess Vote, and agreed that it should await the outcome of the PAC’s deliberations with interest.

Agreed: Members also agreed the terms of the Committee’s reply to the Committee for Finance and Personnel about the Excess Vote.

Mr Frew declared an interest

10. Assembly Research - Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Reform

The Assembly Research and Information Service Officer briefed the Committee on the Common Agricultural Policy Reform and this was followed by a question and answer session.

11. SL1 The Marketing of Potatoes (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2011

The following Officials joined the meeting to assist the Committee with its consideration of proposals to amend the Marketing of Potatoes Regulations:

Renee McDowell - Deputy Principal; and 
Jim Crummie - Agriculture Inspector Grade II.

There was some discussion about the fact that the Ulster Farmers Union was opposed to the proposed increase to the inspection fee.

Agreed: Members agreed that the Marketing of Potatoes (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011should progress to the next legislative stage.

12. SR 118/2011 The Aquatic Animal Health (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2011

Agreed: The Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development has considered the Aquatic Animal Health (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011and has no objection to the rule.

13. SR 124/2011 The Animal By-Products (Enforcement) Regulations (NI) 2011

Agreed: The Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development has considered the Animal By-Products (Enforcement) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011and has no objection to the rule.

14. AOB

15. Date of next meeting

Agreed: The next meeting of the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development will take place on Tuesday 14 June 2011, at 1.30pm, in Room 30 Parliament Buildings.

The meeting was adjourned at 5.44pm

Mr Paul Frew
Chairperson, Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development

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