‘Flexibility on BDGP targets needed in light of fodder crisis’

Flexibility around the terms of the Beef Data Genomics Programme (BDGP) – in recognition of the extreme difficulties posed by the fodder crisis – has been called for by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA).

Commenting on the matter, ICSA suckler chairman John Halley said: “Farmers may inadvertently miss out on BDGP targets, such as the 20% 4-star and 5-star rule, due to having to sell heifers because of fodder scarcity.

“This measure requires farmers to reach a target of having 20% of female stock over 16 months of age achieving 4-star or 5-star ratings on the replacement index on October 31, 2018.”

The suckler chairman noted that, while there is a tolerance of 90%, any farmer who falls below that target “gets an effective penalty of 40%”.

The ICSA believes that where a farmer can show that failure to meet the target is linked to the long, hard winter and fodder crisis, there should be a derogation from the penalty.

“This could have arisen where female stock were sold during the first half of 2018 or where an animal was disposed of at a knackery. In cases where such animals would have made the difference to the targets, then the penalties should be waived,” Halley concluded.

Developments

Meanwhile, Fianna Fail’s agriculture spokesperson Charlie McConalogue has announced that his party will be bringing forward motions in the Dail and the Seanad calling for the Government to take immediate action to remedy the current fodder crisis.

What was a fodder shortage has become a fodder crisis. Since last September, Fianna Fail has consistently called on the Government to tackle the escalating fodder shortages throughout the country.

“However, as a result of the minister’s failure to acknowledge the emerging issues and engage with farmers, the situation has now become a national emergency, which is putting a huge strain on farmers’ mental health and is creating animal welfare issues.

“This crisis is yet another example of just how out of touch Fine Gael is with rural Ireland,” the Fianna Fail TD claimed.