Delay in issuing genomic tags to BDGP participants ‘unacceptable’

The ongoing delay in issuing genomic tags to participants in the Beef Data Genomics Programme (BDGP) is unacceptable, according to the chairperson of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association’s (ICMSA’s) Livestock Committee, Des Morrison.

Under the programme, the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) selects animals to be genotyped in each participating herd and will notify herd owners of the animals selected.

It may be possible – in some cases – for the herd owner to nominate animals for genotyping, other than those selected by the ICBF.

The number of animals to be genotyped each year will at least be the equivalent to 60% of the number of calved suckler cows on the holding in 2014 – or 2017 for new entrants. This will be rounded to the nearest animal.

For example, an applicant with 15 eligible calved suckler cows in 2014 must have sufficient animals to genotype nine cows, heifers, calves or stock bulls, in each year of the programme – without repetition.

However, Morrison said that the delay in issuing tags is undermining the livelihoods of some participants in the scheme and it is damaging the perception of the programme.

“Those farmers who have young stock ready to sell at present and in the coming month are unable to sell due to this requirement.

“Given the present fodder problems and pressures, cash flow and other issues, some farmers may be forced to sell stock now only to buy back more later in the year to fulfil the criteria – a situation which is plainly ridiculous.

Farmers are inspected in all schemes in which they participate and fined if they do not meet the conditions; but here we have a blatant flaw in the BDGP caused by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and we have no sense whatsoever of any urgency around the need to fix this completely foreseeable problem.

The ICMSA is calling on the department to allow those farmers who need tags immediately to request them, with the department committing to deliver them in the coming week, Morrison added.

“If the department cannot deliver on its side, then it must allow farmers to sell their stock without repercussions.

“Farmers need to be able to sell when they believe the market is best for their cattle and they can’t be restricted from doing so because the department failed to anticipate a backlog that was entirely foreseeable,” he concluded.