Question Time: Agriculture and Rural Development 13 January 2014

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development responded to questions on subjects including floods; Single Farm Payments; Common Agricultural Policy; Rural Development Programme. You can view all the questions on our website.

Michael Copeland asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development for her assessment of Rivers Agency’s performance during recent flood warnings in East Belfast.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Michelle O'Neill stated:
Rivers Agency’s preparation for and response to the recent flood warnings in east Belfast was excellent.  In November 2013, the agency organised and ran a real-time simulated emergency planning exercise focusing on coastal flooding.  The exercise involved 70 organisations, including all the flood response agencies, the PSNI, Belfast City Council and other key stakeholders.  As a result, when the events of last week began to unfold, there was clarity on roles and responsibilities from the outset and, I should say, excellent cooperation between all the organisations involved.
In a response to a question from Trevor Clarke regarding how many farmers have yet to receive their 2013 single farm payment, the Minister stated:
To date, approximately 3,000 single farm payment claims remain to be finalised.  My officials are working to finalise them as quickly as possible.  In November 2013, I announced that 95% of claims, including the majority of businesses subject to inspection, will be finalised by the end of February 2014.  Some 92% of single farm payment claims have been finalised since 1 December 2013.  More farmers received their single farm payment in December 2013 than ever before.
Dolores Kelly asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development whether the proposed transfer of Common Agricultural Policy monies from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2 is going ahead.

The Minister advised the house that the 0% rate of transfer for the North of Ireland from pillar 1 to pillar 2 has been notified to the European Commission by DEFRA for the scheme years 2014 to 2019. That means that there will be no transfer of moneys to rural development at this time.

During Topical Questions, the Minister covered Forest Service Estate; Winter Weather; Rural Crime; Agricultural Qualifications; Fishing; Remote Sensor Inspection and EU Funds: Pillar 1/Pillar 2.

You can read the full transcript from Question Time on our website.

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