Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 10 January 2012

Venue: Room 30, Parliament Buildings

1.35pm           The meeting commenced in Open Session

 1. Apologies

Mrs Jo-Anne Dobson MLA

Mr William Irwin MLA

2. Minutes

Agreed: The Committee agreed the Minutes of the meeting of 13 December 2011.

3. Matters Arising

The O’Hare Report & Professor Chris Elliott

Noted:   The Committee noted that the Chair and Deputy Chair will meet, later this week, to discuss next steps in relation to the O’Hare Report – and the related issue of Professor Elliott appearing before the Committee.

EFRA Committee Inquiry

Noted: The Committee noted that the Committee’s submission to the EFRA Committee was received, and considered, by the EFRA Committee, before Christmas, but that a formal response has yet to be received.

Rural White Paper Action Plan

Noted: The Committee noted the 69 responses to the consultation on the Rural White Paper Action Plan have been issued to Members for their consideration and that officials are likely to return to the Committee in mid/late February to address the many points made by Members.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that as the Minister, and officials, were

still involved in ‘bilaterals’ with other Departments and that officials plan to return to the Committee, it is premature to be writing to other Committees at this time.

(a)  Correspondence issued 

The Committee noted correspondence issued since the meeting on 13 December 2011.

(b)   Correspondence received

Noted:  The Committee noted the letter from Minister O’Neill in relation to the letter received by the Committee from Mr Murphy.

Noted:  The Committee noted correspondence from Minister O’Neill in relation to an Assembly question asked by the Chairperson on 3 October 2011 on the Agriculture and Forestry Greenhouse Gas Reduction Strategy and Action Plan.

Noted:  The Committee noted correspondence from Minister Attwood in relation to enabling legislation for National Parks.

Noted:  The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for the Environment in relation to Minister Attwood’s response on Slurry Spreading.

Agreed:  The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment in relation to the Draft Economic Strategy Action Plan and agreed to write to the ETI Committee to ask, in light of proposals for a Food Strategy Board, and plans to grow the agri-food sector, if additional resources should be provided to the further, and higher, education sectors, to support the agri-food sector.

Noted: The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure in relation to the Lagan Canal Trust.

Agreed: The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure in relation to the Reservoirs Bill and agreed to forward the letter to the Department.

Agreed:  The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for the Environment in relation to the Strangford Lough SAC and agreed to forward the letter to the Department.

Agreed: The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for the Environment in relation to a joint Committee meeting with Michael Hamel of the EU Environment Director General’s Office and agreed that the Committee team should make the necessary arrangements. The Clerk was also asked to investigate if the EU DG Agriculture office might also provide a speaker.

Agreed: The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for Social Development in relation to Housing and Fuel Poverty Issues Affecting Rural Communities and agreed to write to DARD for an update on the initiative within the Department and the level of spend to date. The Committee further agreed to write to the DSD Committee, to request details of DSD’s housing targets in rural areas.

Noted: The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister detailing the Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland: Investing Activity Report for DARD December 2011.

Agreed: The Committee noted the AFBI report on the Belfast Lough Cockle Fishery 2011 and agreed to write to the Department to request details its plans for the future of the fishery. The Committee further agreed to invite AFBI to come before the Committee to discuss the report.

Agreed: The Committee noted correspondence from the Department in relation to Dog Licensing and Identification Review of Coloured Collar ID Tags for Dogs and agreed to support the Minister’s inclination to choose Option 2 as the way forward.

Agreed:  The Committee noted correspondence from the Department in relation to the Committee meeting of 29 November 2011 and agreed to forward correspondence to the Environment Committee. The Committee further agreed that the Department should provide an updated account of the total amount of Single Farm Payments at the end of January 2012.  The Committee further agreed to pursue the issue of ‘part’ payment of Single Farm Payments.

1.55pm Trevor Clarke left the meeting

Kieran McCarthy Declared an Interest

Agreed:  The Committee noted correspondence from the Department in relation to the Committee meeting of 6 December 2011 and agreed to defer consideration of the response in relation to the Charges for Meat Inspections until next week.

Noted:  The Committee noted correspondence from the Department in relation to subordinate legislation that will breach the 21 day rule.

Noted:  The Committee noted correspondence from the Department in relation to the Committee’s Forward Work Programme from January to March 2012.

Noted:  The Committee noted correspondence from the Joint Committee on Communications, Natural Resources and Agriculture about the visit on 19 January 2012.

Noted: The Committee noted correspondence from the General Consumer Council on the cost of Car Insurance in Northern Ireland.

Agreed: The Committee considered further correspondence from Mr Murphy in association with the Minister’s related letter. The Committee agreed that the Chairperson should write to Mr Murphy to confirm that the Committee accepted the Minister’s assertion that the matter had been fully, and properly, investigated and that Mr Murphy may wish to request ‘disassociation’, take the matter up with local MLAs, or request the Ombudsman to investigate.

4. Presentation – DARD Business Plan

This session was covered by the office of the Official Report

The following witnesses joined the meeting:

Gerry Lavery, Permanent Secretary

Andrew Elliott, Director of Rural Payments

Pauline Keegan, Assistant Secretary

Norman Fulton, Chief Agricultural Economist

Dr John Speers, Director of Farm, Food and Environment

Graeme Wilkinson, Finance Director

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

3.02pm Conor Murphy left the meeting

3.04pm Oliver McMullan left the meeting 

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to write to the Minister in relation to the Education Strategy.

5.  Written Brief: Outcome of December Fisheries Council

The Committee considered the paper on the Outcome of the December Fisheries Council.

Agreed: The Committee commended the Minister and her officials for achieving a reasonable outcome at the Fisheries Council meeting.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to ask how the Industry might be supported in the future and to request an update on the proposed decommissioning scheme.

6. Committee Visit to Dublin

The Committee discussed the invitation from the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Communications, Natural Resources and Agriculture to observe the proceedings of the meeting with EU Commissioner for Agriculture Dacian Ciolos.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed that 4 Members, the Clerk and Researcher should attend the meeting, and further agreed to incur reasonable travel and accommodation costs as required.

7.  Submission to ETI Committee Inquiry into Research and Development

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson should discuss the issue in the context of their meeting on the O’Hare Report & Professor Chris Elliott with a view to the Clerk drafting a submission to the ETI Committee Inquiry.

8. SL1: Wine Regulations 2011

Noted: The Committee noted the Wine Regulations 2011.

9.  SL1: The Plant Protection Products (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2012

Agreed:  The Committee agreed that the Plant Protection Products (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2012 should progress to the next legislative stage.

10. Chairpersons Business and Forward Work Programme

Agreed: The Committee agreed its Forward Work programme, subject to a number of amendments.

11. Any Other Business

Agreed: The Committee asked the Clerk to convey its good wishes to Emma Patton.

12. Date of next meeting

Agreed: The next meeting of the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development will take place on Tuesday 17 January 2012, at 1.30pm, Room 30, in Parliament Buildings.

The meeting was adjourned at 4.46pm

Paul Frew, Chairperson, Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development

Date

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