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1. General Information

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD WEBSITE

'For immediate access to all that is happening in Agriculture, Fisheries and Food',Visit our website at www.agriculture.gov.ie

For information including:

  • Schemes and Services of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food;
  • Press Releases and Speeches;
  • Information Notes on current issues;
  • Contact numbers for Department Offices;
  • Publications;
  • Link to agfood online services and web video.

You can e-mail queries to info@agriculture.gov.ie

ONLINE SERVICES

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has a number of electronic services available to clients at present which can be accessed via its website at www.agriculture.gov.ie or www.agfood.ie. These include:

  • Access to your Single Payment Scheme (SPS)/Area Aid application information including:
    • Online SPS application;
    • Summary Application Details, Parcel Details and Arable Payment enquiry;
    • Document enquiry showing scanned images of your SPS/Area Aid correspondence with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, all of which may be printed;
    • Colour mapping for your land parcels, which also may be printed.
  • Access to Animal Identification and Movement facilities, including:
    • Calf Birth Registration facility, which allows you to register the birth of a calf online;
    • Herd Profile Enquiry, which allows you to view details of animals in your herd on CMMS, as well as movements in and out of the herd. The latest TB and BR test date for each animal is also displayed;
    • Compliance Certificate facility, which allows you to apply online for a CMMS compliance certificate, which is required when moving animals privately. From mid 2010 you will be able to print the Certificate of Compliance from your home PC and printer;
    • Animal Events Recording for the Animal Welfare Recording and Breeding Scheme for Sucklers.
  • Access to annual Nitrogen and Phosphorus Statements:
    • Farmers registered to use the SPS on-line facility can also access their individual Nitrogen and Phosphorus (N&P) statements. The N&P statements can also be accessed on-line by approved designated agents.
  • Access for registered forestry companies to their clients' forestry grant applications, and allows submission by those companies of forestry pre-approval applications. IFORIS iNet covers Afforestation, FEPS, and Roads schemes and includes:
    • An integrated online mapping system;
    • An online enquiry system, which allows registered foresters and forestry companies to query the status of their clients' applications;
    • A full online system to enable foresters to submit forestry pre-approval applications online;
    • A facility to digitise and submit online the necessary maps required for an application.

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food strongly encourages its clients to register on its web site (www.agriculture.gov.ie or www.agfood.ie) for existing and future services by clicking on the agfood Online Services icon and following the simple instructions. Alternatively, select the web video for instructions and guidance. Farmers can also contact the agfood Online Services Helpdesk (lo-call number 1890 252 118) for assistance. You will receive a PAC (Personal Access Code) and password, for secure interaction with the Department. Once a client has registered for online services, then they will have access to all new facilities introduced by the Department that are applicable to their enterprise.

CUSTOMER SERVICES

The quality of service provided to all our customers is a priority of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and we are constantly seeking ways to improve the efficiency and standards of delivery.

The Customer Charter 2009 - 2011 gives commitments to the customer as to the level and standard of service that can be expected in his/her dealings with the Department. The Customer Service Action Plan 2009 - 2011 expands on these commitments, setting out how they are to be delivered and monitored by the Department. Consultation with and feedback from our clients is vital in helping us to improve our service delivery in every possible way.

QUALITY SERVICE UNIT

The Quality Service Unit, headed by a Quality Service Officer, is responsible for monitoring progress under the Customer Service Action Plan and Customer Charter, as well as co-ordinating action on further improvements in the delivery of services by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to its customers.

As a user of our services, you are ideally placed to give us the benefit of your experiences and to assist us in getting an accurate picture of the quality of our services and to identify areas requiring improvement so that the Department continues to meet with your changing needs. If you have any comment, positive or negative, about the services you have received and/or if you have any suggestions on how the service can be improved, the Quality Service Officer would like to hear from you. A Customer Comment Card is available from all Department offices and directly from the Quality Service Unit.

COMPLAINTS

If you are unhappy with the service that you receive, you can avail of the Department's Customer Complaints Procedure by referring the matter to the Quality Service Officer who will have it fully and impartially investigated. Complaints may be made in person, in writing, by telephone and by email.

Copies of the latest Customer Service Action Plan, the Customer Charter and a leaflet explaining the Customer Complaints Procedure are available from the Quality Service Unit at the address below, or by accessing the Department's website www.agriculture.gov.ie  

Further information is available from the Quality Service Unit, Corporate Affairs Division, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Grattan House, Grattan Business Centre, Dublin Road, Portlaoise, Co. Laois. Tel: 057 8694331, Fax 057 8694387 or e-mail: qualityserviceunit@agriculture.gov.ie

REQUIREMENTS OF THE DISABILITY ACT 2005

As a public body the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is required, in accordance with Sections, 25, 26, 27 or 28 of the Disability Act 2005, to ensure that the services and information it provides are accessible to persons with disabilities.

Section 26 of the Act requires the Department to ensure that its mainstream public services are accessible to people with disabilities insofar as this is practical and appropriate. If it considers it necessary, the Department must provide assistance to persons with disabilities in accessing its services. Section 26(2) of the Act requires the organisation to appoint an Access Officer to provide or arrange for and co-ordinate the provision of assistance and guidance to persons with disabilities in accessing its services.

Section 28 of the Act requires the organisation to ensure that information imparted by it, is provided in an accessible format to persons with disabilities.

ACCESS OFFICER

In accordance with section 26(2) of the Disability Act 2005, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has appointed an Access Officer who is responsible for providing or arranging for, and co-ordinating assistance and guidance, to persons with disabilities accessing services provided by the offices and generally to act as a point of contact for people with disabilities wishing to access such services.

The contact details for the Access Officer are as follows:
Address: Corporate Affairs Division, Floor, 6E, Agriculture House, Kildare St, Dublin 2. Telephone: 01 - 6072046 or 6072339; E-Mail: access.officer@agriculture.gov.ie

COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE UNDER THE DISABILITY ACT 2005

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has appointed an Inquiry Officer to deal with complaints under the Disability Act 2005. Any individual can make a complaint if the Department has not complied with Sections 25, 26, 27 or 28 of the Disability Act 2005. A complaint can be made in writing by letter, fax or email.

All complaints will be investigated by the Inquiry Officer who will issue a report on his investigations. All reports issued will set out the findings of the Enquiry Officer and will include a declaration regarding whether the complaint has merit, whether there has been a fault by the Department in relation to the matter complained of and where a failure is identified it will outline the steps to be take to ensure future compliance.

The contact details for the Inquiry Officer are as follows:
Customer Service Unit, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food,Grattan House, Grattan Business Centre, Dublin Road, Portlaoise, Co. Laois.Telephone: 057 869 4324; Fax: 057 869 4287; email:
inquiry.officer@agriculture.gov.ie

FARMERS CHARTER ACTION PLAN

The Farmers Charter Action Plan 2009 - 2011 was agreed following discussions with the farming organisations. The Charter sets out specific delivery targets to our farmer customers and covers the following services:

  • Single Payment Scheme;
  • Disadvantaged Areas Compensatory Allowance Scheme;
  • Suckler Welfare Scheme;
  • Rural Environment Protection Scheme;
  • Early Retirement/Young Farmers Installation Scheme
  • On Farm Investment Schemes;
  • Afforestation Grant and Premium Schemes;
  • Animal Health Schemes.

The Charter continues our commitment to the 12 Quality Customer Service principles set out in our Customer Service Action Plan and Customer Charter. Progress under the Charter will be monitored by a review committee under an independent chairman. The committee will be composed of representatives of farm organisations and Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food staff.

Further information regarding the Farmers Charter Action Plan can be obtained from the Quality Service Unit, Corporate Affairs Division, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Grattan House, Grattan Business Centre, Dublin Road, Portlaoise, Co. Laois. Tel: 057 8694331 Fax: 057 8694387 or e-mail: qualityserviceunit@agriculture.gov.ie. Copies of the Farmers Charter Action Plan are available on the Department's website at www.agriculture.gov.ie  

FARMERS ANNUAL PAYMENT STATEMENT

In line with the Department's commitment in the Customer Service Action Plan to provide clear and accurate information, an Annual Payment Statement issues to all farmers who have received payments from the Department. The statement is a composite list of all payments issued to (and debts recovered from) a farmer in any given calendar year by the Department. The Annual Payment Statement for 2009, giving details of all payments and recoveries made in 2009, was issued in January 2010.

DIRECT CREDIT PAYMENTS

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food now issues all EU funded scheme payments to farmers by Direct Credit. Under this payment method money is electronically forwarded directly to the farmer's nominated bank account or credit union account. At the same time a remittance advice issues by post to the farmer with confirmation of the payment and details of the transaction.

Further information on this payment method and the relevant authorisation forms may be obtained from Direct Credit Section, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Farnham Street, Cavan (Tel: 049 4368283) or directly from the Department's website at www.agriculture.gov.ie

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT

The Freedom of Information (FOI) Acts 1997 and 2003 provide that every person has the right to seek access to personal information held on them by public bodies regardless of when the records were created and to other records created after 21 April 1998.

Under the Act every person has a right to:

  • Seek access to records held by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food;
  • Seek to correct personal information relating to oneself held by the Department, where it is inaccurate, incomplete or misleading;
  • Be given reasons for decisions made by the Department where such decisions directly affect the individual involved.

When making an FOI application it is important to note that:

  • The application must be in writing and must indicate that the information is sought under the Freedom of Information Act;
  • The request must provide sufficient detail to enable the records sought to be identified. If you have difficulty in identifying the precise records you require, staff will assist you in preparing your request;
  • If you are seeking personal information, some form of identification, e.g. copy of driver's licence, passport, etc. should accompany your application;
  • Where information is desired in a particular format i.e. photocopy, computer disk, etc. this should be outlined in your application, your preference will be accommodated insofar as is reasonably possible.

Remember that the records you require may already be publicly available. If so, there is no need to make a formal FOI application.

In most cases, the Department must give its decision on a request within four weeks (20 working days) of receiving it. Where third party consultation is involved, an additional three weeks is provided for.

There is no charge for requesting personal information. With effect from 7 July 2003, there are up-front fees for requests for non-personal information. The current standard fee for an initial request for non-personal information is €15. A reduced fee of €10 applies to requesters who hold a medical card.

Further information is available from: Freedom of Information Unit, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Grattan House, Grattan Business Centre, Dublin Road, Portlaoise, Co. Laois. Tel: 057 8694327; Fax: 057 8694387; e-mail: foi@agriculture.gov.ie

LABORATORY SERVICES

The Laboratory Services of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food play a hugely important role in assisting the Department to meet its objectives. They lend support to many of the other divisions of the Department and, in addition, provide a service to the food industry, veterinary practitioners and the general public. The fundamental work of the laboratories is as varied as it is important. Legislative based, regulatory testing forms the primary work of the Central Meat Control, Pesticides, Dairy Science and Seed Testing Laboratories; while the Veterinary Laboratory Service has a diagnostic surveillance and research and development role also.

The Laboratory Services consist of a central laboratory complex based at Backweston, Celbridge, Co. Kildare together with a number of regional laboratories located throughout the country. The Backweston complex, in occupation since 2005, has brought together a number of different laboratories having a variety of functions in the one building.

The laboratories involved are the:

  • Central Veterinary Research Laboratory (CVRL) - comprising of divisions: Bacteriology, Pathology, Virology and a laboratory audit unit;
  • Central Meat Control Laboratory (CMCL);
  • Dairy Science Laboratory (DSL);
  • Pesticide Regulation and Control Division (PRCD);
  • Plant Health Laboratory (PHL);
  • Seed Testing Laboratory (STL).

In addition to the Backweston complex, six Regional Veterinary Laboratories located at Athlone, Cork, Kildare, Kilkenny, Limerick and Sligo whose primary work is in disease diagnosis and surveillance. A Brucellosis Laboratory in Cork and two regional Dairy Science laboratories at Limerick and Cork complete the laboratory service. Specific reference to the laboratories is included in the relevant parts of this booklet and at Appendix 1A and 1D.

Further information may be obtained by contacting:Backweston Laboratories, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Backweston Campus, Stacumny Lane, Celbridge, Co. Kildare. Tel: 01 6157100.

NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN / RURAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME, 2007-2013

National Development Plan (NDP) funding is earmarked for agriculture and food development under four sub-programmes addressing competitiveness, the environment, the food industry and agri-food research. On fishery, funds have been allocated for marine research, coastal protection, development of the seafood sector (seafood processing and marketing, training, aquaculture) and development of the fisheries coastal infrastructure (piers and harbours). The recommendations of the Agri-Vision 2015 Action Plan are reflected in the support measures under the NDP.

The Rural Development Programme (RDP) has an allocation of €5.1bn of which €2.5bn will be met from the European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development in the implementation of Ireland's Rural Development Programme 2007-2013. The RDP addresses three priorities - competitiveness, the environment and the wider rural economy.

In line with the requirements of Council Regulation (EC) 1698/2005 the programme is structured around three core Axes, which have the aim of:

  • Improving the competitiveness of agriculture;
    • Setting up of Young Farmers (suspended to new applicants);
    • Early Retirement (suspended to new applicants);
    • Modernisation of Agricultural Holdings;
  • Improving the environment;
    • Less Favoured Areas;
    • Natura;
    • Agri-Environment (REPS/AEOS);
  • Improving the quality of life in rural areas;
    • Diversification into non-agricultural holdings;
    • Business creation and development;
    • Encouragement of tourism activities;
    • Basic Services for the economy and rural population;
    • Village renewal and development;
    • Conservation and upgrading of rural heritage;
    • Training and information;
    • Skills acquisition, animation and implementation;
    • The Rural Broadband Reach Scheme.

The measures for improving the quality of life in rural areas are administered by the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs, (see chapter 14 for further information), with the exception of the Rural Broadband Reach Scheme which will be operated by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

AGRICULTURE APPEALS OFFICE

The Agriculture Appeals Office is an agency that provides an appeals service to farmers who are dissatisfied with decisions of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food regarding their entitlements under certain schemes. The Agriculture Appeals Act 2001, along with the Agriculture Appeals Regulations 2002, set down the function of the Director and the Appeals Officers.

SOME OF THE FEATURES OF THE OFFICE

  • Appeals Officers are independent in the performance of their functions;
  • Appeals must be lodged within 3 months of the Department's decision. Every appeal must be made in writing and must contain a statement of the facts and contentions upon which the appellant intends to rely;
  • Each case is assigned to an individual Appeals Officer who considers all the evidence and then makes a determination. A comprehensive decision letter issues to both the appellant and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food;
  • An appellant has the right to an oral hearing, to be held at a neutral venue convenient to the appellant. Oral hearings are held in private and are as informal as possible. An appellant can bring someone to represent him/her at the oral hearing and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food also has a representative at the hearing.

The Office deals with appeals under a range of schemes including the following:

  • Single Payment Scheme;
  • Disadvantaged Areas Compensatory Allowances Scheme;
  • Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS);
  • Early Retirement Scheme;
  • Organic Farming;
  • On-Farm Investment Schemes (including Farm Waste Management, Improvement in Dairy Hygiene Standards and Alternative Enterprises);
  • Farm Improvement Programme (including Horticulture);
  • Installation Aid;
  • Non-valuation aspects of the TB and Brucellosis Eradication Schemes;
  • Animal Welfare, Recording and Breeding Scheme for Suckler Cows;
  • Bioenergy Scheme (Excluding Willow).

The Agriculture Appeals Office 'Information Note and Notice of Appeal' form is available from local offices of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, from the Appeals Office itself, or on the Office's website, www.agriappeals.gov.ie which contains other information about the Office.

For further information contact the Agriculture Appeals Office, Kilminchy Court, Portlaoise, Co. Laois.Lo-Call: 1890 671671 or Tel: 057 8667167; Fax: 057 8667177 email: appeals.office@agriculture.gov.ie website: www.agriappeals.gov.ie