Sunday, 20 July 2014

Robinson and McGuinness congratulate McIlroy on Open success

First Minister Rt Hon Peter D. Robinson MLA and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MLA have congratulated Rory McIlroy on becoming the 2014 Open Golf Champion.

The Ministers said: "We congratulate Rory on becoming the 2014 Open Champion. He has delivered a golfing masterclass over the last four days at Royal Liverpool.

"Having won three Majors, Rory now joins golfing greats Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players to win three majors by the age of 25. Rory is an exceptionally talented golfer and with his strong work ethic, he will undoubtedly go on to achieve many more great wins in his career.

"Rory is a fine ambassador for Northern Ireland. We are all very proud of his achievements and hopefully he can carry this rich vain of form into the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in September."

Foster: Rory Open victory major boost to NI tourism

Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster has said Rory McIlroy's record breaking Open Championship victory is a major boost to golf tourism in Northern Ireland.

Arlene Foster said: “Rory McIlroy's impressive victory at the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool has once again put Northern Ireland firmly in the centre of the media spotlight for all the right reasons. It was wonderful to see him lift the famous Claret Jug and become the first golfer in nine years to win the Championship 'wire to wire', having led the field after every round. He has also become the first European golfer and only the third player in the modern era - after Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus - to win three of the four majors by the age of 25. 

"Rory is a tremendous ambassador for Northern Ireland and today’s historic result will present even more opportunities to tell the world what makes this place so special. He said this week that bringing The Open Championship back to Portrush was the best decision the R&A has ever made - and of course I agree with him. It will be the biggest sporting event ever held here and will showcase our golfing tourism product to a wider audience than ever before.

“With the mouthwatering prospect of the Irish Open in 2015 and 2017, and The Open Championship possibly as early as 2019, things have never looked better for golfing tourism in Northern Ireland. With that in mind, we will continue to work hard to promote Northern Ireland as a ‘must play’ destination for both the serious and casual golfer.”

Friday, 11 July 2014

O’Neill announces technical decisions on Pillar 1 CAP Reform

Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill today announced a series of technical decisions on the implementation of CAP reform from 2015.

Minister O’Neill said: “Following on from my announcement last month on the remaining key policy decisions establishing the broad CAP support framework, I am today outlining my decisions on a number of detailed technical matters which will form part of the overall farm support regime from1 January 2015

“These decisions were guided by the principle of ensuring a smooth and measured transition to the new Pillar I support regime and avoiding unnecessary changes where existing approaches are working successfully."

The Minister concluded: “Today’s announcements effectively conclude the decision making process arising from the CAP Reform agreement and attention will now focus on preparing for implementation.”

List of technical decisions taken:

1. The threshold for exempting businesses from the compulsory test which applies to those on the negative list (i.e. businesses that operate airports, railway services, waterworks, real estate services or permanent sport and recreational grounds) will be set at €5,000. Businesses receiving direct payments at or below €5,000 in a given year will not be subject to this test in that year.

2. No agricultural land in the north of Ireland will be designated as being naturally maintained in a state suitable for grazing and cultivation and, hence, there is no need to define the minimum agricultural activity that must be carried out on such land.

3. Agricultural areas will need to meet certain characteristics which will mirror current eligibility rules in order to be deemed as being maintained in a state suitable for grazing or cultivation.

4. The current framework relating to the conduct of non-agricultural activities on agricultural land will remain unchanged.

5. Date on which land has to be at the farmer’s disposal in order to claim direct payments will remain 15 May.

6. The minimum field size of a field (eligible area) that can be used for claiming direct payments will remain at 0.1 ha.

7. The maximum tree density for land to be eligible for direct payments will be set at 50 trees per hectare.

8. The list of tree species that can be used for short rotation coppice to be eligible for direct support payments will remain unchanged (i.e. from within the Genera of Alder, Birch, Hazel, Ash, Lime, Sweet Chestnut, Sycamore, Willow and Poplar).

9. The maximum harvest cycle for short rotation coppice to be eligible for direct support payments will be set at five years.

10. The Private Contract Clause by Sale option will be implemented.

11. Private Contract Clause by Lease option will not be implemented.

12. The Windfall Profit Clause option will not be implemented.

13. The value of Basic Payment Scheme entitlements already held by new entrants or young farmers which are below the regional average will be increased to the regional average value in the year of application when making an allocation from the regional reserve.

14. There will be no extension to the coverage of the Farm Advisory System beyond the mandatory requirements set out in EU legislation.

15. Those businesses on the negative list (see 1 above) seeking to demonstrate that they are engaged in significant agricultural activity must show that receipts obtained from agricultural activities represent at least one third of total receipts obtained in the most recent fiscal year for which information is available.

16. Agricultural activity for those on the negative list (see 1 above) shall be considered to be the principal business or company object of a legal person if it is recorded as a principal business or company object in the official business register (or equivalent), with equivalent evidence being required in the case of a natural person.

17. For the purposes of crop diversification (under greening obligations), the crop must be present (or its stubble/residue present to enable the original crop to be identified) during the entire period of 1 June to 31 July each year.

18. For the purposes of crop diversification, different seed mixtures will not be recognised as constituting separate crops. If a farmer grows more than one seed mixture, the seed mixtures will collectively be regarded as one crop.

19.The list of tree species that can be used for short rotation coppice for Ecological Focus Area (EFA) purposes (under greening obligations) will be from the Genera Alder, Birch, Hazel, Ash, Lime, Sweet Chestnut, Sycamore, Willow and Poplar.

20. The use of mineral fertiliser on short rotation coppice used to meet an EFA requirement will not be permitted. The use of plant protection products will not be permitted beyond the end of the second growing season post planting.

21. The nitrogen fixing crops that can be used for EFA purposes will be peas, beans and sweet lupins.

22. These nitrogen fixing crops used for EFA purposes may be grown on any area of arable land (i.e. no additional restrictions will be imposed). However, they must be grown in compliance with the requirements of the Nitrates Action Plan, Cross Compliance Regulations and any other regulatory requirement if they are to count for EFA purposes.

23. In a farm business where two or more young farmers, taken together, constitute the head of holding, then all such young farmers must meet the educational qualification requirements in order for the business to be eligible for the Young Farmers’ Scheme. Young farmers in a business who individually or in combination with other young farmers are not head of holding will not be required to meet the educational qualification requirements in order for the business to be eligible for the Young Farmers’ Scheme (provided, of course, there is another young person(s) who is head of holding and who possesses the required qualification). 

24. All media queries should be directed to the DARD Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email: DARD Press Office. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440and your call will be returned.