Agriculture, Food and the Marine: Joint Oireachtas Committee

I was elected to this committee in 2016 and participate in specialised parliamentary work, taking evidence from interest groups, meet witnesses, and invite Department officials to discuss specific issues of interest to Ireland’s agri-food sector and fisheries industry.

You can find out more about the work of the Committee here: www.oireachtas.ie/parliament/oireachtasbusiness/committees_list/agriculturefoodandthemarine/

Revised Nitrates Action Programme a positive step for Irish farmers

 

Cork Senator and member of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee, Tim Lombard, has welcomed the renewal of Ireland’s derogation under the Nitrates Directive.

Senator Lombard said: “The renewal of our Nitrates Derogation is very positive news for Irish farmers, providing us the capacity for achieving targets set out in the Food Wise 2025 Strategy.

“This decision to renew this derogation is recognition that Ireland has and is continuing to maintain our commitment to improving water quality during ongoing developments in our agricultural sector.

“Ireland’s 4th Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) will commence in January 2018 and run until the end of 2021, as will the renewed derogation.

“The new derogation allows farmers to exceed the Nitrates Regulations limit of 170 kg of livestock manure nitrogen per hectare, up to a maximum of 250 kg per hectare, subject to adherence to stricter rules.

“This new Programme also places particular emphasis on disrupting pollution pathways, as to prevent agricultural run-off affecting our water. As well as the requirements applied to previous derogations, two additional stipulations which will ensure a higher level of environmental protection:

1) 50% of all slurry produced on a derogation farm must be applied by the 15th June annually. After this date slurry may only be applied using low emission equipment.

2) In order to be eligible for a derogation farmer’s must have sufficient storage for all livestock manure and soiled water produced on the holding.

“The new NAP also emphasises the importance of knowledge transfer, as to ensure that farmers fully understand how best to protect the natural waters on or close to their lands. This will ensure that greater value can be generated from the agri-food sector while continuing to protect our water quality – a critical component of agriculture sustainability.”

 

05 December 2017

€112,000 for agricultural shows in Cork

 

A national allocation of €812,000 has been earmarked for Irish agricultural shows in 2018, €112,000 of which has been granted to Cork.

Senator Lombard said: “Agricultural shows are hugely important to our rural economy. We know the economic benefit they bring to the local economy here in Cork, with surrounding towns and villages benefitting hugely from each show.

“The Government considers this funding an important investment in rural communities and I am delighted that my colleague Minister Ring has provided this funding.

“The shows in Cork set to receive a grant of €7,000 each are:

  • Ballygarvan
  • Ballyvourney/Coolea
  • Bandon
  • Bantry
  • Barryroe
  • Belgooly
  • Carbery/Skibbereen
  • Charleville
  • Clonakilty
  • Cork Summer Show
  • Dunmanway
  • Inniscarra
  • Leap
  • Midleton
  • Schull
  • West Cork Horse Breeders

“This funding allocation takes into account the fact that smaller shows have particularly struggled in recent years. This funding will be a great boost to these events and I commend the dedicated volunteers who work so hard on making the shows happen every year.”

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring TD said: “This represents a substantial investment in rural communities and in the rural economy by the Government. I know that this funding will provide a huge boost to the agricultural shows that are such an integral part of our rural culture.

“I know that many shows have struggled in recent years as a result of adverse weather and increased costs. These shows have been a mainstay of the local summer and their absence has been keenly felt.  I hope that this once-off funding will help prevent that situation recurring next year and will help these shows to get back on a sound footing.”

This investment is being carried out in coordination with the Irish Shows Association and the recipients are all members of that Association. Additional shows affiliated to the Irish Shows Association may be added to the list at a later stage.

 

04 December 2017

Lombard declares for Cork South West

 

Senator Tim Lombard has voiced his intention to declare for the Cork South West Fine Gael convention.

Senator Lombard said: “The current precarious political situation has emphasised the need for clarity regarding Fine Gael candidates for the next general election, whether that will be this year, next year, or 2021.

“I have previously indicated but am now declaring my intention to put my name forward to contest the Fine Gael convention for the Dáil Éireann in Cork South West.

“As a former Mayor of Cork County Council, and having served 13 years as a local councillor, I have spent more than a decade working directly with the people of Cork to improve and support the quality of life for our local communities.

“In 2016 I was elected as a member of the 25th Seanad, and have used my time as an Oireachtas member to present to Dublin the concerns of people all the way down here in Cork.

“I feel that my political experience along with my background in farming has provided me with a unique understanding of the core issues that need to be address for West Cork.”

Senator Lombard concluded by stated his belief that his convention candidacy will ensure that Fine Gael can secure two Dáil seats in the impending general election.

 

27 November 2017

TAMS II Scheme should include generators

“Funding for generators should be included in the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) II list of investment items” said Cork Senator, Tim Lombard, during a commencement debate in Seanad Eireann earlier this week.

“TAMS II has a budget of €395 million to help finance farm expansion and modernization, including machinery. Some of the main objectives are to enable growth and competitiveness in the agriculture sector, address environmental issues, support the increased efficiency on holdings, and to improve animal health and welfare.

“Recent storm events, like those seen in October, have shown the need to include funding for generators as a measure in the TAMS II scheme. Generator equipment is an absolute requirement for farms when or if there is an outage of power, particularly the dairy sector which relies on electricity to drive milking parlors and cooling equipment.

“The dairy industry is essential to the Irish economy, with exports worth €3.38 billion in 2016. The number of dairy cows has grown significantly over the past four years, driving expansion in both exports and the need for equipment to support this increase. TAMS II has been a great asset in this growing sector.

“Aside from the obvious economic implications of a power outage, animal welfare is also of great concern. Any dairy farmer knows that their cows need to be milked at least once but preferably twice a day, and also that they consume large volumes of water. These welfare necessities rely on an electricity supply, which, in the case of an outage, relies on an available generator.

“As it stands only 23% of applicants have submitted payment claims under TAMS II, which accounts for only 10% of the total allocated budget. With 2017 marking the halfway point of the scheme, I believe that the scheme could be revised to include generators as an essential investment for farmers.

“I will continue to push the Minister of Agriculture to re-evaluate the budget and TAMS II measures. Recent events have show how vulnerable farms, especially those in dairy, are in cases of power outages. With the generous work of many farmers, sharing generators and labor, the dairy industry was able to work through the challenges presented during recent storms.

“While I applaud their work, we need to create an industry where such strenuous conditions are not necessary. The inclusion of generators in TAMS II is a simple step towards ensuring we have a Plan B in emergency situations.”

 

17 November 2017

Lombard: €93 million for Cork farmers

The start of the 70% advance of the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) will see over €700 million sent out to 111,000 farmers across the country. 11,548 farmers in Cork will benefit from payments totalling €93,154,553, Fine Gael Senator, Tim Lombard, has said.

“This advance payment is a welcome support for farmers here in Cork, and payments should have starting hitting bank accounts already.

“My Fine Gael colleague Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed has also confirmed that the level of the advance payment has been set at 70% this year, rather than 50% as provided for in the EU legislation.

“These payments will benefit over 11,000 farmers here in Cork and will have positive knock on effects to our rural communities as a whole.

“The remaining 30% and other BPS-related payments, such as Young Farmer Scheme and National Reserve top-ups, will be paid in December.

“The Agriculture and Food sector is a strategic priority for Fine Gael. We recognise that farming families are the heartbeat of the rural economy, and our vision for the sector will inspire the next generation to continue the tradition of family farming,” Senator Lombard said.

Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed added that “the advance BPS payment and the ANC payments taken together mean that over €880 million has now issued to Irish farmers in the last month.  These payments provide a significant financial boost for individual farmers and the wider rural economy.

“I was delighted to secure an increase in the ANC scheme allocation for 2018.  This €25 million increase will provide direct financial support to farmers in the most marginal areas of the Country.”

 

Note: Advance payments will continue issuing regularly until mid-November, with balancing payments to commence issuing from early December.

31 October 2017

€13m for Cork farmers under ANC Scheme

Fine Gael Senator on the Agriculture panel, Tim Lombard, has said Cork farmers are set to benefit from €13,005,566 in funding under the Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) Scheme.

The funding was announced by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD, and is set to benefit 75,000 farmers nationally with total funding exceeding €170 million.

Senator Lombard said: “This funding will benefit 5,621 of our local, hard-working farmers. I would like to thank my Fine Gael colleague, Minister Michael Creed for fighting to make this possible.

“Farmers, especially on the hills and in the disadvantaged areas, took heavy cuts in direct support during the recession and the funding for this year will go some way to rectifying that.

Deep into Cork IFA discussions

“The Agriculture and Food sector is a strategic priority for Fine Gael. We recognise that farm families are the heartbeat of the rural economy and our vision for the sector will inspire the next generation to continue the tradition of family farming.”

Minister Creed said: “The ANC Scheme is an important support for farmers in many regions of the country, and I am delighted to announce that payments have now started to issue.  My Department will continue to process remaining cases for payment as a matter of urgency over the coming weeks.”

09 October 2017

€8.8m for National Food Innovation Hub in Cork

Fine Gael Senator, Tim Lombard, has welcomed plans for an €8.8 million National Food Innovation Hub to be located at Teagasc’s Moorepark facility outside Fermoy.

Speaking about the launch Senator Lombard said: “This National Food Innovation Hub is a critical and timely investment in our agri-food sector due to the uncertainty and potential challenges posed by Brexit.

“As a member of the joint Oireachtas committee for Agriculture, Food and the Marine I am constantly discussing and debating the imminent challenge of Brexit, something which farmers and agri-business people in Cork have been talking to me about on a weekly basis.

“The Government is being proactive about this. We want to help Irish businesses to innovate and expand and this new Hub will help ensure our agri-food sector remains competitive – a hugely important initiative to help mitigate the impacts of Brexit.

“The Government’s Food Wise 2025 plan identified Research, Development and Innovation as key drivers of competitiveness in the agri-food sector. Collaboration between industry and the research community is crucial to advance research and new product innovation.

“The Hub will act as a business innovation network involving dairy companies, Moorepark Technology Ltd (MTL), incubator companies and public-private partnership based R&D programmes with a research focus on food processing, quality and nutrition. It will consist of up to 12 customer application suites containing office and laboratory space, so that each company can have an on-campus presence to conduct new-product development and collaborate with research.”

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, confirmed today (Friday) that €8.8m of exchequer funding will be provided from the Department of Agriculture’s Capital allocation on a phased basis over 2018 and 2019 to fund the development of the National Food Innovation Hub. This investment in the National Food Innovation Hub is in addition to a €10 million investment by Teagasc and the dairy industry in MTL (Moorepark) to expand and upgrade its pilot processing facilities. This upgrade is currently underway.

Senator Lombard continued: “In addition, Budget 2018 provides €300 million for a Brexit Loan Scheme for small businesses, with funding of up to €300m available at a competitive 4% interest rate to assist SMEs, including food businesses, with their short-term working capital needs.

“Brexit has very serious consequences for Ireland, but the Government is proactively working to insulate and support the agri-food sector as much as possible.”

13 October 2017

Brexit-focussed budget that will support Cork businesses

Funding from Budget 2018 will assist local businesses in Cork, ensuring they are supported to face the challenges of Brexit, Fine Gael Senator, Tim Lombard, has said.

A welcome announcement during Budget 2018 was An Tánaiste, Frances Fitzgerald, securing a €40 million increase in her Department’s capital budget – a record capital allocation for the Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation.

Senator Lombard said: “This is a pro-business Budget and the record level of multi-annual funding and the tax measures announced will allow us to support small businesses in Cork, and indeed wider Ireland, in dealing with the challenges of Brexit.

“This Budget strikes the right balance between maintaining the stability of our public finances, improving our competitiveness, and supporting job creation. Improvements in the areas of housing, childcare, health and education will all improve the business environment here in Cork, laying the foundations for future jobs growth.

“Ever since the Brexit referendum passed in June 2016, business owners in Cork have been telling me that access to working capital is a key issue. In response to this need the Tánaiste, along with the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, have announced a new €300m Brexit Loan Scheme which will reduce the cost of borrowing and provide much needed headroom to viable businesses at this uncertain time.

“I want businesses in Cork to know that the Government and its agencies are ready to engage. If you are concerned about Brexit, and have not yet taken steps to address those concerns, Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices can help you – as can the trade representative bodies such as IBEC, SFA, Chambers Ireland, ISME.

“To ensure a combined approach to Brexit across the country and the globe, an additional €3 million has been allocated to double the additional Brexit-related staff in Enterprise Ireland, IDA, Science Foundation Ireland and the Health & Safety Authority.

“Fine Gael is determined to drive further jobs growth in every region in Ireland. Recent CSO data is encouraging, illustrating that 4 out of every 5 new jobs being created are outside Dublin.

“Enterprise Ireland’s €63 million capital investment budget will allow it to build on the 201,000 jobs its client companies already directly support, while IDA’s €137 million capital programme will support the ongoing rollout of its Regional Property Programme.

“Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) are a key element in supporting local entrepreneurship and enterprise. Their funding has increased from €18.5m two years ago to €22.5m for next year.

“In May Enterprise Ireland launched a new regional enterprise development fund to support the regional Action Plan for Jobs and encourage collaborative initiatives building on local strengths. I’m delighted that this Budget enables Enterprise Ireland to proceed with a further competitive fund call for proposals for €25m to support regional initiatives this coming January.

“The Budget’s tax package is aimed at stimulating greater levels of local investment and to reward those who take the risks involved in creating jobs for others.

“I strongly welcome the new share based remuneration incentive – KEEP – which will help SMEs attract and retain key employees in a competitive labour market by providing for an advantageous tax treatment on share options.

“Self-employed workers in Cork will benefit from the increase in the Earned-Income Credit for the Self-Employed by €200 to €1,150. This is further progress along the road to tax equalisation for the self-employed, something Fine Gael has prioritised across a number of Budgets now.

“Reductions to the USC rates and the marginal rate of tax will help drive further job creation, as will the retention of the special 9% VAT rate for tourism.

“The gains we have made since the dark days of the recession are hard won and they are fragile, especially in the context of Brexit. However we are in a position to protect our economic recovery and use some of the resources it provides to give all people and businesses here in Cork a fair chance, and the opportunity to reach their full potential.”

12 October 2017

Lombard welcomes €95,245 EMFF investment in Cork aquaculture

“EMFF [European Maritime and Fisheries Fund] funding of €95,245 has been granted to four of our local aquaculture companies here in Cork, to be invested in equipment and research for increasing production and facilities at local mussel and oyster farms.

“This very welcome grant is part of a €240 million investment over six years in the industry nationally. It is great to see such investment in Cork’s local economy and aquaculture industry; I welcome the continued and increasing level of capital investment in our aquaculture sector which will underpin our ambitions to significantly grow our production in the coming years.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, said: “The grants are made under the EMFF Sustainable Aquaculture Scheme and EMFF Knowledge Gateway Scheme. Both schemes remain open for new applications. These grant awards contribute to the Action Plan for Rural Development.

“I am delighted to see recent efforts by my Department and BIM to encourage our third level institutions to become involved in the research agenda for the sector coming to fruition with three of our best third level institutions receiving approval for applied research to assist our sector in innovating and developing new technical knowledge to support the sustainable growth of the sector, together with two further industry research projects.”

06 September 2017

Farms are a workplace, not a playground

Senator Tim Lombard from Cork has said that farms should be treated as a workplace, not as playgrounds.

As a member of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee member Senator Lombard has urged all farmers to use the opportunities provided during Farm Safety Week 2017 to improve awareness and safety on their farms.

“We do not allow people to run amok on construction sites because it is too dangerous, and the same must apply for farms; they are a workplace with many potential hazards and should not be treated as a playground.

“It is careless and foolish to allow farms to be treated as such and farmers and visitors alike must take responsibility for personal safety when on a farm.

“Farming has the poorest safety record of any occupation in Ireland. 21 people unfortunately lost their lives in farm accidents during 2016, and increase of 3 from 2015. This increase is especially distressing given that workplace fatalities fell by 21% across all sectors in 2016.

“These bleak statistics don’t even paint the full picture of the devastation a farm accident or fatality has for families, communities and businesses.

“To reduce these accidents there needs to be a greater focus on personnel safety in the farming sector; we must increase awareness of the dangers that exist and take time to minimise those risks, only then will we improve the safety of people working on or even visiting a farm.

“The annual Farm Safety Week is a great program which aims to reduce the number of farming accidents and fatalities through a number of initiatives. Many farm safety events are being held this week and I encourage farmers to take the time to participate in these educational opportunities.

“I would also encourage farmers to use this week as an opportunity to perform risk assessment of their farming operations and avail of the discounts available on safety equipment from retailers nationwide.

“Safety must be a fundamental component of the farming ethos. Even though there are many risks involved within the sector farming does not have to be a dangerous occupation, many accidents that occur are sadly preventable.

“This week isn’t just about raising safety awareness of people working on farms either. Anyone visiting a farm also needs to be made aware of the dangers associated with working farms.

“Farming is a huge part of our lifestyles and communities here in Cork. It is critical that we all take part in educating ourselves about the dangers posed by farming activity and thus improve the safety of our farming sector.”

More information on Farm Safety Week UK & Ireland can be found online at www.ifa.ie/farm-safety or follow @IFAmedia or #FarmSafetyWeek on Twitter.

25 July 2017