The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) is calling for autumn-born calves who missed the November 1 eligibility deadline for the 2021 Dairy Beef Calf Scheme, to be made eligible for the scheme in 2022.

Chairperson of ICMSA’s livestock committee, Des Morrisson, has called for these calves, who didn’t meet the age specifications at time of weighing, to be admitted to the 2022 scheme.

He said many interested farmers – usually liquid-milk producers – had been unable to avail of the innovative scheme because of the November 1 cut-off date. This, he said, has emerged as “a glaring anomaly”, one that could, and should, be easily rectified.

“It’s very simple. We want a stipulation that calves born this autumn that were ineligible for the 2021 Dairy Beef Calf scheme to be eligible next year, if the herdowners apply.  

“We’re aware of liquid-milk producers who calved roughly half their cows in autumn, and the balance in spring, who are interested in the scheme but who, due to the present terms and conditions, are currently unable to enter it,” he said.

“We know where this scheme has to go – certainly upwards from the 40 animals and €20 per head payment currently applicable,” he said. 

“ICMSA will be arguing for realistic higher numbers and a minimum payment of €50 per head. But, for now, the important thing is to get the mechanics of the scheme up and running and then start moving it towards the point where farmers see it as a real commercial option.

“The dairy-beef integration that we all know we need will accelerate as the farmers recognise that.  But this all starts from making the scheme logical, easy-to-access and attractive, which is why we need this stipulation for the 2022 scheme,” he said.

He said farmers need to know very soon if this extension will be made for them.