The 6-year contract requirement for the recently announced Beef Data and Genomics Programme has been slammed by the ICSA

ICSA President Patrick Kent has said it is completely and absolutely unacceptable that farmers would be treated this way.

He said all the evidence points to the incredible commitment and dedication shown by suckler farmers to date, particularly given the huge difficulty in making a living in this sector.

“The Minister is showing total disregard for farmers by offering this scheme in its current format, and ICSA is adamant that the 6-year commitment must be abolished.”

Kent said the force majeure clause only covers a tiny proportion of the many legitimate reasons why a farmer might have to quit the scheme before its conclusion, most of which would be financial.

If Minister Coveney really wants to encourage farmers to stay in suckling for the long term, then he must do more to ensure that they can get a fair price for their produce and make an adequate living from their enterprise.

Referring to the requirement for an applicant to enter a six year contract this week, Minister Coveney said that this was a requirement of the Rural Development Regulation.

“In order to have this programme approved under Article 28 of the Rural Development Regulation, it was necessary to require applicants to enter into a six year contract.”

Minister Coveney said this should suit committed suckler farmers and will provide a measure of stability through a guaranteed annual payment for the full six years of the payment.

He said also that it gives time to applicants to meet the requirements of the scheme on a phased basis and provides sufficient space to ensure that there is real benefit from genetic gain both in terms of environmental sustainability and in terms of improved profit margin for farmers.