EU agri-food health standards under review

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine will today meet with Minister Simon Coveney to consider Ireland’s approach to the upcoming Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting, to be held in Brussels in mid-December.

The council is scheduled to discuss a package designed to strengthen the enforcement of health and safety standards for the whole agri-food chain, including plants and animals.

Minister Coveney will also outline the Sea Fisheries Sustainability Assessment to the committee. The programme for Government commits to an annual assessment based on consultation with all major stakeholders, before EU fisheries negotiations commence.

Chairman of the committee Deputy Andrew Doyle said: “Our committee has an important oversight role on the Government’s interaction with the EU on policy related to agriculture and fisheries. We will engage with Minister Coveney on the approach he proposes to take at the forthcoming Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting. The meeting will consider a range of proposals relating to animal and plant health, which is fundamental to underpinning Europe-wide consumer confidence.

“We also look forward to hearing from the minister on the Sea Fisheries Sustainability Assessment, which ensure that the opinion of key stakeholders flows into these key annual fishing negotiations in Brussels. Properly managed, the Irish fishing industry can enjoy steady commercial growth in the coming years and we look forward to hearing how the minister plans to ensure a fair and sustainable result for  Irish fishermen from the negotiations.”

Horse, greyhound funding

Separately, the committee will discuss a motion on the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund Regulations 2012. This covers the proposed funding to the horse and greyhound industries next year, which amounts to €50m.

Deputy Doyle continue:: “The committee welcomes the opportunity to question the minister on the proposed state funding for the horse and greyhound industries in 2014. In these difficult economic times, the committee believes it critical that all state funding be closely scrutinised and evaluated. In line with Budget 2014, the minister proposes to provide €54.2m to the fund next year. The committee will consider tomorrow whether the proposed funding is appropriate and proportionate, bearing in mind the impact of the industry on the economy of rural Ireland in particular.”

AgriLand will be reporting live.

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