Despite nearly 29,000 farmers signing up to participate in the new Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) there remains a great deal of uncertainty among many of them about how it will work for them, according to IFA President Eddie Downey.

He has called on the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to establish the Working Group for the BDGP without delay, to allow it address the technical and operational concerns of farmers with the scheme.

Downey said this week’s meeting of the IFA Executive Council was strongly critical that the key issues that have been raised at IFA meetings around the country have not been addressed.

He said waiting for a mid-term review is not an option as there is an urgency around the concerns that have to be resolved if the Programme is to work for farmers.

Nearly 29,000 farmers have signed up to participate in the Programme, but there remains a great deal of uncertainty among many of them about the BDGP and how it will work for them.

He said the Minister cannot allow these doubts to remain if the maximum numbers are to take it up.

“The responsibility lies with him and his Department to make the Programme attractive for suckler farmers,” he said.

Downey said the Working Group will have to include all views to ensure any changes reflect fully the issues that have been raised.

The IFA President said the problems with the six-year rule and clawbacks, the reference year and the star rating have put farmers off the Programme.

“There is little point in attempting to open up the BDGP if the Minister does not recognise the genuine difficulties that suckler farmers have. Rather than push this out to a mid-term review, we need to see movement now,” he said.