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Parliamentary Question No. 100

To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if his Department has conducted or is involved in research into growing sugar beet for the production of ethanol; if so, the details of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter.- David Stanton.

For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 20th May, 2008.

Ref No: 19586/08 Lottery: 12 Proof: 92


The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: (Brendan Smith)

My Department is committed to supporting research in non-food land uses. To date, it has awarded in excess of €6 million in funding for biofuel research projects under the Department’s Research Stimulus Fund Programme arising from Calls for Proposals issued in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

The 2005 Research Stimulus Fund Programme funded a project entitled ‘Development of a strategy (E-supply) for bioethanol production to support the evolution of a non-food crops sector for Irish agriculture’. Part of this project quantified existing feedstocks and potential availability for conversion to bioethanol, including sugar beet. It also examined bioethanol production costs. My Department is closely monitoring the progress of this research project which is due for completion at the end of this year.

The 2007 Call for Proposals under the Research Stimulus Fund Programme invited proposals in the Agri-Energy area to identify and develop within the agriculture sector, renewable energy sources with feasible exploitation potential. No projects on sugar beet were submitted.

My Department is currently in discussions with other stakeholder Departments on the priority topics for 2009. Research into non-food land uses will continue to be a priority.

Parliamentary Question No.649, For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 2nd April, 2008.

To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the situation with reference to the various elements of the sugar beet compensation including that which has been incorporated into the single payment scheme, the EU restructuring aid for the sugar industry and diversification aid; the amount of each element that has been paid to date; the amount that remains to be paid; when she expects the remaining amounts to be paid; and if she will make a statement on the matter. – David Stanton.


The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: (Mary Coughlan)

The total package negotiated in the context of the reform of the EU sugar regime was worth in excess of €310m to Ireland.

The first element is the compensation for the reduction in the minimum price of beet which is worth approximately €123m to Irish beet growers over seven years. It has been already incorporated in the Single Payment with effect from 2006.

The second element is the EU restructuring aid which, at the outset, was worth €145m to Ireland. Three parties benefit from this aid: the sugar processor, former beet growers and machinery contractors. The first instalment of 40% (€58m) was paid to the beneficiaries in June 2007 and the balance of €87m was paid in February 2008. However, an amending EU regulation in October 2007 had the effect of increasing the overall amount of restructuring aid available to Ireland and this increase, the amount of which has yet to be confirmed by the EU Commission, will be paid retroactively to the growers in June 2008.

The third and final element of the package is the diversification aid worth almost €44m to the former beet growers. The first tranche of 50% (€22m) was paid in September 2007 and payment of the balance to the growers got under way last month.