-negotiations hosted by Ireland at the National Seafood Centre, Clonakilty

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD today welcomed the progress made at the international Blue Whiting Fisheries negotiations in Clonakilty.

The Minister said “I am pleased that serious efforts were made this week to resolve the contentious issue of how this important fish stock is shared between the various parties. The current sharing arrangement for this large fish stock, which is heavily fished to the north west of Ireland and Scotland in the springtime, has broken down .The European Union and other parties are looking for a fairer long term sharing arrangement of this valuable resource.”

The Minister reported that at this week’s negotiations “The European Commission made a strong case for an increased EU share, which would also mean an increase in Ireland’s quota. It’s unfortunate that a final agreement was not possible with our international partners in this fishery but substantial progress was made in the negotiations. I am hopeful that an equitable sharing arrangement can be found when the parties next meet.”

Negotiations on international management of the very large North East Atlantic Blue Whiting fishery began last Tuesday and were hosted by Ireland on behalf of the European Union at the National Seafood Centre in Clonakilty, Co. Cork. Delegates from France, United Kingdom, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands Norway, Iceland, Faeroes Islands, as well as Ireland were in attendance.

The European Commission had requested that Ireland host the talks on behalf of the European Union at the National Seafood Centre. Fishing industry representatives were also present to monitor the negotiations. The Blue Whiting fishery is very important to Ireland and for 2015 the Irish quota is over 23,000 tonnes.

This quota is landed directly into Killybegs and is increasingly processed for human consumption in fish factories in Killybegs , who have pioneered the use of this resource for human consumption. In addition to the catch by the Irish fleet, vessels from Norway & the United Kingdom have landed over 32,000 tonnes of Blue Whiting into Killybegs this year, creating additional employment in the fish processing industry.



The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD and the Minister of State Tom Hayes TD have welcomed the EU Commission decision to approve 50% EU co-funding for ‘Potato Potential’, a €4.3m programme to promote Potatoes on the Irish and UK markets. The Ireland segment is worth €1m over three years and was developed by Bord Bia in conjunction with the IFA and the Irish Potato Federation.

Commenting on the Commission decision, Minister Coveney said “I am delighted to see the EU recognition and financial support for an industry programme to raise awareness among Irish and British consumers of the versatility and nutritional value of the potato. The sector is investing its own funds over three years in the campaign, which will be managed in Ireland by Bord Bia. This programme can deliver valuable home market opportunities and provide the industry with the confidence to grow. “

The Potato Potential programme will inform and educate consumers, through key opinion influencers together with highly targeted activities demonstrating that potatoes are convenient, versatile and can be used in innovative ways suitable to our modern lifestyle. The measures financed can consist of public relations, promotional or publicity campaigns, highlighting the advantages of EU Products. The Department has committed 9% of the programme budget.

Minister Hayes highlighted that “A fund of over €60m is available annually under the EU promotion regulation to promote agricultural produce. I would encourage industry to sponsor further joint promotion proposals. We can be proud of our quality, food safety, animal welfare and environmentally friendly production methods. Promotion campaigns such as Potato Potential enable us to showcase these attributes on the European and world stages and we welcome more such campaigns

Organic Farming Scheme Now Open


The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Tom Hayes TD has announced the opening of the new Organic Farming Scheme with immediate effect. Minister Hayes made this announcement during a visit to the farm of Mr John Purcell, Good Herdsmen, Organic Meat Processor, Golden, Cashel, Co. Tipperary.

On announcing the opening of the Scheme, Minister Hayes emphasised that “The Organic Farming Scheme is a key support measure that enables farmers to avail of the growing market opportunities that clearly exist for organic food. My job is to encourage farmers to avail of these opportunities and by doing so, maximise their potential income.” The Minister also reminded organic farmers that they also qualify for priority access into GLAS, the new agri-environment scheme

Minister Hayes welcomed the fact that “the new Scheme offers significantly increased rates of aid to Organic farmers, both in conversion and when fully established. Applications for the new scheme must be made online, , but there will be no requirement to use an Agricultural Advisor to make the applications. The application process itself is quite simple, and most farmers should have no difficulty in submitting their applications. However, those who prefer to have their advisor make the application on their behalf will be able to do so.”

The Organic Farming Scheme is an agri-environment measure under the Department's Rural Development Programme 2014-2020. The Scheme is co-funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). Farmers enter into a contract for a minimum of five years, with standard rate payments of up to €220 per hectare a year during the conversion period and up to €170 per hectare when they have achieved full organic status. Higher payment rates are available for organic horticultural and tillage farmers.
In conclusion, the Minister said that the closing date for applications will be 29 May, 2015 and that decisions would be made at that stage on the number of applicants that will be accepted into the scheme.
Copies of the Organic Farming Scheme terms and conditions are available on the Department's organics page at

New Organic Farming Scheme Payment Rates



The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD today announced that, following intensive discussions in recent months with the EU Commission, a letter of comfort has now been received in relation to Ireland’s Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.

Minister Coveney stated that, “The receipt of the letter of comfort is the culmination of an intense period of consultation between officials in my Department and the EU Commission in relation to the content of our RDP. I am now in a position to begin the phased roll out of the schemes and supports in the RDP which will help to underpin economic growth and development throughout rural Ireland.”

Formal adoption of RDPs in 2015 across Member States will be delayed until after the Multi-Annual Financial Framework is amended at EU level. Pending this process, the EU Commission agreed to issue letters of comfort where RDPs have completed the negotiation and consultation stage with the Commission in order to allow Member States to implement their RDPs in advance of formal adoption at EU level.

The RDP is cofunded by the National Exchequer and the EU Commission, and contains some €4 billion of schemes and supports, including

A new Agri-environment and climate scheme (GLAS) which is the successor to the previous REPS and AEOS schemes, and a range of other environmental schemes.
Support for Areas of Natural Constraint (formerly Disadvantaged Areas).
Support for a range of on farm capital investments.
Support for a range of knowledge transfer measures.
Support for the beef sector via the Beef Data and Genomics Programme.
Support for projects delivered via the LEADER mechanism (operated by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government).

The Minister further commented, “Following on from my recent opening of the new GLAS scheme, I am delighted to confirm that the basis to implement other schemes such as the Areas of Natural Constraint scheme, the Beef Data and Genomics Programme and support for capital investment is now in place. The roll out of these schemes will underpin increased competitiveness and growth in rural Ireland and the agri-food sector over the period to 2020. The National Exchequer funding committed to this RDP is a clear signal of the Government’s continuing commitment to strategic investment in the agri-food sector and the rural economy.”

ACA Members attending an Oireachtas Committee Meeting

Representatives from ACA were invited by the Chairman of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr Andrew Doyle T.D., to attend a meeting of the Committee yesterday, Tuesday 14 April 2015 to discuss the uncertainty facing farmers regarding the eligibility of marginal land for the Basic Payment Scheme and GLAS.