IRELAND LIKELY TO END YEAR AT LESS THAN 1% OVER QUOTA

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today announced that the preliminary output estimate for the end of the milk quota year is that Ireland will finish 0.94% over quota. The 2013/14 quota year expired on 31 March last and the 0.94% figure is an estimate based on returns to the Department by the co-ops, taking into account the relevant butterfat adjustment. The final figure will be confirmed at the end of May.

Minister Coveney commented “While this end of year figure is still only an estimate, it appears that farmers have made substantial efforts over recent weeks to manage their supplies. The current position represents a significant improvement in production management since last January when the estimated milk quota position was 1.63% over quota”.

The 0.94% over quota position is a reduction on the 1.26% estimate at end-February and continues a downward trend from December of last year. This is mainly attributed to unfavourable weather in the first quarter of this year as well as better management by farmers of their supplies.

Referring to the ending of the quota regime the Minister said “As we enter the final year of the milk quota regime, I would again remind farmers to have regard to their quota position in planning their production over the coming 12 months. While many farmers are anxious to expand their production levels, it is important to remember that quota restrictions will remain in place until this time next year. I would encourage farmers to be conscious of this and to plan prudently as they prepare for the post quota era”.

He also reminded suppliers that they should only sell their milk through their usual purchaser in compliance with the Milk Quota Regulations and that to sell through any other channels is an offence.

Concluding, the Minister said “We are now entering a momentous phase in Irish agriculture history, with less than one year to go to quota abolition. This time next year the Irish dairy sector will be unbound by quota restrictions and can begin to realise its vast potential and make an even greater contribution to our national economy”.

ENDS

MINISTER ANNOUNCES EXTENSION TO CLOSING DATE TO BEEF GENOMICS SCHEME

SUBMISSIONS TO BEEF GENOMICS SCHEME/BEEF DATA PROGRAMME

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, has today announced an extension to the closing date for submission of applications under the 2014 Beef Genomics Scheme/Beef Data Programme. ‘I have decided to extend the closing date in order to give farmers additional time to complete and return the application forms’ the Minister said, noting that there is a single combined application form, with farmers having the option to use the one form to apply for one or both measures.

It’s essential that farmers appreciate that, if they wish to apply for the Beef Genomics Scheme, they MUST also apply for the Beef Data Programme. However, those wishing to only apply for the Beef Data Programme may do so using this form.

The Minister added ‘Therefore, while the closing date for receipt of completed forms had initially been fixed for Friday, 4 April, I have decided to extend this by a further period, to Thursday, 17 April. I must emphasise, however, that there is no scope to extend this date further’.

Notes for Editors:

€23 million has been allocated for the BGS in 2014 and the Department has sent out BGS application forms to some 70,000 beef farmers. The scheme will fund payments on approximately 550,000 calves in 2014.
Under this new scheme farmers will have to take DNA samples from 15 % of the female animals in their herd which will be specified by ICBF, along with the stock bull, and send these samples to a laboratory for genotyping.
The results of these genotyopes will be stored in the ICBF database and returned to the scheme’s participants in respect of their animals tested. This will mean that the farmer will be able to base decisions on breeding by using the best available genetic information on his animals which have been genomically tested.
As a condition of the BGS, scheme participants commit, in the event of a positive or inconclusive test result for BVD, to removing the PI calf to a knackery within the timeframes laid down in the Terms and Conditions of the Scheme
BGS participants must also be in the Beef Data Programme 2014.
Participants in the Beef Data Programme (BDP) will receive up to €20 per calf.

ENDS

HAYES OPENS ALL ISLAND STATE VETERINARIANS’ CONFERENCE

At the opening of the North South State Veterinary Conference today, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Tom Hayes TD, referred to the ongoing successful co-operation between both jurisdictions in the agriculture sector. He spoke of the value of the agriculture and food sector to the Irish economy and the need to maintain Ireland’s reputation as a world leader in the supply of safe and high quality food and drink products.

Referring to the Animal Health & Welfare Act 2013 Minister of State Hayes said “I am very pleased that there is a broad new regime in place for Animal Health Welfare. This brings greater clarity and coherence to the law in this area and reaffirms our proud tradition in the welfare of animals of all species”.

The Minister said that the Animal Health & Welfare Act 2013 enshrined the principles of the Five Freedoms for animals and this should lead to an improvement not just in animal welfare, which is a worthwhile end in itself, but on the productive capacity of our farming sector too. The 5 freedoms are

I. Freedom from hunger and thirst,

II. Freedom discomfort,

III. Freedom pain, injury and disease,

IV. Freedom to exhibit natural behaviour,

V. Freedom from fear and distress

According to the Minister, the new enforcement approach reflects the need to intervene early in possible animal welfare situations before they escalate. He said that “This improves the situation so that the first resort is not the last resort of prosecution”. He continued that “There is also a system of fixed penalty notices which can be used as an alternative to prosecution in minor cases”.

The Minister also referred to the many changes that are happening at European level with regard to the modernisation of the meat inspection regime. “This revision of the meat inspection service by the EU Commission is progressing, with a focus on being more risk based and effective in providing food safety guarantees for the consumer”.

Concluding, the Minister said: “Modernisation of the meat inspection service will serve to ensure that Ireland maintains its leading position as a producer of food of the highest quality and safety. These high standards will play a substantial role in Ireland achieving its targets under Food Harvest 2020, and in enhancing the economic recovery of this country”.

ENDS

PLANS FOR LARGEST MARINE FOOD INGREDIENTS PLANT

Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine today warmly welcomed plans by the Killybegs Fishermen’s’ Organisation (KFO) and a Norwegian partner, to build the largest marine food ingredients plant in the world in Killybegs, Co. Donegal.

The plant, due to become fully operational by the 1st of January 2017, will produce valuable high-end marine protein for human consumption.

The Minister continued “This facility will become a ‘game-changer’ in the seafood sector. It will position Killybegs and Ireland as a global leader in supply and research around new products and benefits from protein, oils and calcium associated with the sea. This new processing facility arises from the new boarfish fishery which was developed by Irish fishermen over the past few years. In 2012, the EU introduced quota shares for the stock and Ireland secured 70% share of the fishery and has a quota of 88,000 tonnes in 2014. I am delighted that the new food ingredients project will maximise the value of a significant part of this fishery and centre the associated economic activity and jobs in the heartland of Ireland’s fishing community.

Minister Coveney said “These plans are at an early stage and discussions are underway to finalise the full funding of the project. I look forward to the successful conclusion of these negotiations and to a formal announcement of this project in Donegal. KFO Chief Executive, Sean O’Donoghue, has invited me to Donegal to announce specific details of the project on 9th May which I’m very pleased to accept subject to successful conclusion of the on-going discussions”

The Minister made his comments during his opening address at the BIM National Seafood Conference today in Dublin. The focus of this conference, attended by seafood business leaders, global industry thinkers and world renowned fisheries experts is ‘Capturing Ireland’s share of the global seafood opportunity’.

Minister Coveney said at the Conference “We all need to challenge our thinking and inform ourselves of best international practice so that Ireland will be able to position itself to maximise its share of the global seafood opportunity. Ireland may currently be a small player in the context of world seafood, however, given the huge resources around our coast it is clear that we should have major ambitions for sustainable growth of our seafood sector. This Conference will contribute to making these ambitions a reality and the Killybegs food ingredients projects shows what can be done”.

ENDS

COVENEY ANNOUNCES RESULT OF THE FINAL MILK QUOTA TRADING SCHEME

“Landmark Day For Irish Dairy Farmers”

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today announced the aggregate results of the sixteenth and final stage of the Milk Quota Trading Scheme. This is the second of the two stages that will allocate quota on 1st April 2014, for use during the final year of operation of milk quotas on Irish dairy farms.

A total of 45.6 million litres of milk quota was offered for sale under the scheme, with 43.4 million litres successfully traded. Of this total, 30.1 million litres was sold on the exchange at prices ranging from 3 to 18 cent per litre with the remaining 13.3 million litres being sold through the priority pool at the maximum price of 3 cent per litre. Demand for quota was 154 million litres meaning that only 28% of the volume sought was satisfied.

Commenting on the outcome, the Minister said “This was the final opportunity under the Trading Scheme for milk suppliers to either purchase additional quota for short term use or to dispose of unwanted quota and it was no surprise that demand and supply for sale were both higher than usual. Unfortunately as always, the demand significantly outstripped supply which means that there will be some disappointed purchasers. However, it must be remembered that we are now entering our final year of quotas and those that wish to expand their enterprises this time next year will be unbound by quota restrictions. The huge demand for this additional quota reflects the confidence and desire for expansion on the ground amongst dairy farmers”.

As this was the last ever running of the scheme, the Minister acknowledged the collaboration between his Department, milk purchasers, farm organisations, ICOS and the farming press for their work and co-operation down through the years in helping to make this trading mechanism so beneficial to the Irish dairy sector.

Concluding, the Minister said that “over the years the Milk Quota Trading Scheme proved to be an exceptionally robust and transparent mechanism for dealing with the movement of quota between suppliers and those who wished to acquire additional quota, and that it had won the confidence of all the stakeholders. Since its inception in 2006, more than 660 million litres of quota have been traded through the scheme. This is another landmark day for Irish dairy farmers. We are moving to a new era in milk production in Ireland and the countdown to quota abolition can really begin in earnest. One year from today, the Irish dairy sector will be free of quotas and can begin to fully realise its vast potential”.