Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 28 June 2011

Venue: Room 30, Parliament Buildings

2.02pmThe meeting commenced in Open Session

1. Apologies

None

2. Chairpersons Business

Agreed: The Committee agreed that agenda item 15, on Committee Priorities, should be held in closed session.

3. Minutes

Agreed: The Committee agreed the Minutes of the meeting of 21 June 2011.

2:08pm Mrs Dobson left the meeting.

4. Matters Arising
(a) Correspondence issued

The Committee noted correspondence issued since the meeting of 21 June 2011.

(b) Correspondence received

Noted: The Committee noted correspondence from the OFMDFM Committee relating to the DARD Investment Strategy for NI, Investing Activity Report.

Noted: The Committee notedcorrespondence from the Department providing further information in relation to queries raised at the meeting of 31 May 2011.

Agreed: The Committee noted correspondence from the Department in relation to queries raised at the meeting of 7 June 2011. Members agreed the Clerk should factor the ‘key dates’ in relation to Reservoir Safety legislation into the Committee’s Forward Work Programme. The Committee further agreed that the Department should be asked to submit a further report on Single Farm Payments in time for the Committee’s first meeting after Summer Recess.

Agreed: The Committee noted correspondence from the Department in relation to queries raised at the meeting of 14 June 2011, including the temporary measures for the storage of poultry litter which run out at the end of September 2011. Members agreed that the Department should brief the Committee, in September, on the outcome of the field trials and on what arrangements will apply for the period from 1 October 2011 until the end of December 2014.

Noted: The Committee noted the Outcome of Consultation on the Department’s Revised Equality Scheme.

Noted: The Committee noted the Weekly report on Bluetongue.

Agreed: Members noted the terms of the pilot TB Lay-testing Scheme and agreedthat the Department should brief the Committee on the Scheme in December 2011, or January 2012.

Noted: The Committee noted correspondence from the British Association for Shooting and Conservation about the proposed Forestry Bylaws.

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

Agreed: Members noted correspondence from the Culture Arts and Leisure Committee in relation to the Forestry Bylaws and agreed to keep that Committee informed about the progress of this subordinate legislation.

5. Presentation: DARD Research Challenge Fund – Tranche 2

The following Officials joined the meeting:

Sinclair Mayne - Departmental Scientific Advisor; and

Rosalind Dempsey - Deputy Principal.

Officials briefed the Committee on the second tranche of the Research Challenge Fund and this was followed by a question and answer session. Officials undertook to respond, in writing, to a number of specific queries.

2:18pm Mr Murphy joined the meeting.

2:28pm Mr Swann joined the meeting.

2:30pm Mrs Dobson re-joined the meeting, Mrs Kelly left the meeting.

2:39pm Mr Murphy left the meeting.

2:55pm Mrs Kelly re-joined the meeting

6. Presentation: DARD TB and Brucellosis Compensation

The following Officials joined the meeting:

Colette McMaster – Assistant Secretary;

Roly Harwood - Senior Principal Veterinary Officer; and

Ian McKee - Principal Officer . 

Officials briefed the Committee on the proposals for compensation schemes for Bovine TB and Brucellosis and this was followed by a question and answer session. There was some discussion on the issue.

Mr Irwin and Mr Frew both declared interests.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to advise the Department that it was opposed to the tabular value for compensation and that it was unconvinced about its effectiveness as a tool for the eradication of the Bovine TB and Brucellosis. The Committee further agreed that it was important for the Department to continue to deal with the two diseases separately and that there should be more focus on the eradication of both diseases, including greater efforts to take legal proceedings against those considered to be fraudulently taking advantage of the compensation schemes. The Committee also agreed that the compensation schemes were a burden on the taxpayer and that the Department should consider limiting compensation by applying a ‘cap’.

3:00pm Mr McCarthy left the meeting.

3:09pm Mr Swann left the meeting.

3:55pm Mr Irwin left the meeting.

3:58pm Mr McMullan left the meeting.

4:12pm Mr Irwin re-joined the meeting.

4:15pm Mr Buchanan left the meeting.

7. Presentation: Pre-Consultation Draft Docking of Working Dogs’ Tails (Certification and Identification) Regulations (NI) 2012

The following Officials joined the meeting:

Colette McMaster – Assistant Secretary;

Kate Davey - Principal Officer; and

Andrew Kell - Deputy Principal Officer . 

Officials briefed the Committee on the key proposals for the docking of working dogs’ tails and this was followed by a question and answer session.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content that this matter should move to consultation stage, provided that the Department returns with a detailed analysis of consultation responses.

During this item Mr Frew declared an interest

8. Presentation: DARD Outturn Report for 2010/11 Published Targets & Business Plan 2011/12

The following Officials joined the meeting:

John Smith - Assistant Secretary ;

Tom Rodgers - Principal Officer;  and

Gareth Evans - Principal Officer.

Officials briefed the Committee on the Outturn for the year 2010/11 and the proposed Business Plan for 2011/12 and this was followed by a question and answer session. Officials undertook to respond, in writing, to a number of specific queries.

4:25pm Mr McCarthy re-joined the meeting.

5:00pm Mr Swann re-joined the meeting.

9. Pre-Consultation: Welfare of Farmed Animals Regulations (NI) 2011

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content that this matter should move to consultation stage, provided that the Department returns with a detailed analysis of consultation responses.

10. Pre-Consultation: DARD Estate Management Strategy

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content that this matter should move to consultation stage, provided that the Department returns with a detailed analysis of consultation responses. The Committee further agreed to enquire why the proposed Headquarters re-location is not referenced in this document.

11. SL1 : The Sea Fishing (Illegal, Unrecorded and Unregulated Fishing) Order (NI) 2011

Agreed: Members agreed that The Sea Fishing (Illegal, Unrecorded and Unregulated Fishing) Order (NI) 2011 should progress to the next legislative stage.

12. SL1 : The Poultrymeat Regulations (NI) 2011

There was some discussion about the Poultrymeat Regulations in the context of the planned visit to Granville Food Care, Dungannon, on 30 June 2011.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to defer its decision on the Poultrymeat Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011 until after the planned visit to Granville Food Care, Dungannon, on Thursday 30 June 2011.

13. SL1 : The Eggs and Chicks (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2011

Agreed: Members agreed that The Eggs and Chicks (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland ) 2011 should progress to the next legislative stage.

14. SL1: The Animal By-Products (Enforcement) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2011

Agreed: Members agreed that The Animal By-Products (Enforcement) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland ) 2011 should progress to the next legislative stage.

5.09pmThe meeting moved into Closed Session

15. Committee Priorities for 2011/12

The Committee considered a paper from the Clerk and discussed its priorities for work in the upcoming session.

Agreed: Members agreed, in principle, to proceed on the basis of the Clerk’s paper. Members further agreed that a letter should issue to key stakeholders to canvass their views on the relative priorities in the agriculture and rural development sectors. The Committee also agreed to commission a number of research papers from the Assembly’s Research and Information Service.

5:45pm Mr McCarthy left the meeting.

16. AOB

The Clerk reported on a possibility of an invitation to the National Ploughing Championships to be held in Kildare on 20, 21 and 22 September 2011 and which would provide an opportunity to discuss matters of mutual concern with the Committee for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

Agreed: The Committee agreed, in principle, to accept the invitation, once received, and the Clerk was authorised to proceed to make arrangements as necessary.

There was some discussion about the Forest Service policy on charging for cyclists entering Forestry owned land.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department seeking clarification on the charging policy.

17. Date of next meeting

Agreed: The next meeting of the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development will take place on Tuesday 13 September 2011, at 2.00pm, in Room 30 Parliament Buildings, unless the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson consider it necessary to convene a meeting prior to that.

The meeting was adjourned at 5.56pm

Mr Paul Frew, Chairperson, Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development

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