Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: 23 April 2013

Venue: Room 30, Parliament Buildings

1.37 p.m. The meeting commenced in Open Session

1. Apologies

There are no apologies.

2. Chairperson's Business

The Chairperson advised Members that a rota will be devised for the meet and greet session at the Balmoral Show and will be circulated in due course.

1.39 p.m. Mr Buchanan joined the meeting.

The Chairperson advised Members that an informal meeting had been held with Antrim Farmers and that a note of the meeting would circulate in due course.

The Chairperson advised Members that the pack for next week's meeting would issue one day later due to the Brussels visit.

3. Minutes of the meetings 16th April 2013

Agreed: The Committee agreed the minutes of the meetings held on 16th April 2013.

4. Matters Arising

Agreed: The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for the Environment regarding the proposed draft Roadworthiness Package and T5 Tractors. The Committee agreed to write to the Department of the Environment to ask to be kept informed of developments.

Noted: The Committee noted a letter from DARD regarding issues raised at the meeting on 19 March 2013 regarding the agri-environment scheme and NICSM payments.

Noted: The Committee noted a letter from the Minister regarding forthcoming financial corrections to Ovine/Bovine and Rural Development Axis 2.

Agreed: The Committee noted the copied correspondence from the Minister to the USPCA regarding deer hunting and the potential biosecurity risks; the Committee agreed to forward the correspondence to the Countryside Alliance who, along with the USPCA, raised the issue initially with the Committee.

Noted: The Committee noted the correspondence from the Minister regarding issues raised in relation to horse DNA in meat products.

Noted: The Committee noted the weekly update from DARD on Ash Dieback.

5. Oral Briefing RaISe – EU Issues

The Assembly Research Officer joined the meeting at 1.41 p.m. and briefed the Committee on EU issues.

This was followed by a question and answer session.

1.45 p.m. Mr McMullan joined the meeting.
1.59 p.m. Mr Byrne left the meeting.
2.07 p.m. Mr Milne left the meeting.
2.08 p.m. Mr McAleer joined the meeting.
2.17 p.m. Mr McAleer left the meeting.

6. Oral Briefing DARD – EU Issues

The following departmental officials joined the meeting at 2.35 p.m.

Rosemary Agnew, Principal Officer
Paddy Campbell, Deputy Principal Officer
Kate Davey, Assistant Secretary
Colette McMaster, Assistant Secretary
Jackie Robinson, Principal Officer
Peter Toner, Principal Officer

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

Mr Irwin declared an interest as a farmer who receives Single Farm Payment.

Mrs Dobson declared an interest that her husband receives Single Farm Payment.

3.00 p.m. Mr Byrne rejoined the meeting.
3.15 p.m. Mr Buchanan joined the meeting.
3.24 p.m. Mr Irwin left the meeting.
3.30 p.m. Mr McCarthy left the meeting.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to request that an update on the recent announcement that the Rural Development Programme will transfer to council responsibility, is included in the briefing scheduled for 26 June 2013.

7. SR The Forestry (Felling of Trees) (Calculation of the Area of Land) Regulations (NI) 2013

Question put and agreed;

That the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development has considered the Forestry (Felling of Trees) (Calculation of the Area of Land) Regulations (NI) 2013 and recommends that is be affirmed by the Assembly.

Agreed: The Committee noted correspondence from the Woodland Trust regarding the forthcoming Felling Regulations and agreed to forward it to the Department to respond to.

8. Written brief – Severe weather update

Noted: The Committee noted the weekly update paper from the department on the recent severe weather.

Agreed: The Committee agreed the draft Press Release on use of "Exceptional Circumstances" for farmers hit by severe weather.

9. Correspondence

Noted: The Committee noted the correspondence from the Committee for Finance and Personnel on an update from DFP on the European Consultative Partnership Group.

Noted: The Committee noted the correspondence from the Committee for Employment and Learning regarding an unfair dismissal case in the Northern Ireland Civil Service.

10. Forward Work Programme

The Committee discussed requesting the attendance of the Minister to brief the Committee on assistance offered to sheep farmers.

Mr Byrne proposed that an invitation issues to the Minister to brief the Committee on 30 April 2013 to provide an update on the assistance being offered to sheep farmers as a result of the severe weather.

The Committee voted on the proposal.

The Committee divided;

Ayes – Mr Frew, Mr Buchanan, Mr Byrne, Mrs Dobson, Mr Irwin and
Mr Swann.

Noes – Mr Milne and Mr McMullan

The proposal was carried.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister to request that she briefs the Committee at the meeting on 30 April 2013 on the assistance offered to sheep farmers as a result of the severe weather.

Agreed: The Committee agreed the Forward Work Programme.

11. AOB

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister to request that she communicates with the DRD Minister to urge him to compensate farmers in a timely manner for fence damage during recent road clearance of snow.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister to request that she liaises with the Health Minister to ensure that assistance is offered to farmers suffering from stress and mental health issues due to the severe weather impact.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister to ask why farmers who were subject to the vesting order on the A5 project in Co Tyrone, are now required to apply under Force Majeure provisions in order to obtain Single Farm Payments.

12. Date of the next meeting

Agreed: The next meeting of the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development will take place on Tuesday 30th April 2013 at 1.30p.m. in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.

The meeting adjourned at 4.03 p.m.

Paul Frew, Chairperson, Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development

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