Concern has been raised that the “tokenistic” funding of €20/calf in the Dairy Beef Calf Scheme is a sign of what is to come in the implementation of the Food Vision strategies.

Speaking to Agriland, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Dairy chair Stephen Arthur said he is worried that the “measly” funding allocated to the scheme is a metaphor for what will be made available for the actions outlined in the recent Food Vision Dairy Group’s final report.

He labelled the €20/calf payment “an insult” to calf rearers, saying it comes nowhere close to covering the costs that they have.

According to Arthur, a bag of milk replacer currently costs about €70, and “you’re looking at putting a bag and a half into each calf if you’re going to do a good job and leave them fit to go on up the beef line”.

“Under the Food Vision strategies, these calf rearers are going to be an integral part of achieving the scheme’s goals, and we need to pay them properly for that,” he said.

Arthur added that the first 70 days are key in “the making or breaking of the calf”, so it is at that stage, that investment needs to come.

“Earlier slaughter age is a key action in the strategies, but there is no pathway to achieve that if the government is going to offer funding that is pure tokenism,” he said.

“I am concerned that this is a sign of what’s to come. I’m fearful that this is a metaphor for the funding we will see in the Food Vision strategies. Is it also going to be miniscule?”

The dairy chair added that a scheme that does not have sufficient funding can cause more damage than no scheme at all, and he hopes this will not be the case.

A number of farm organisations including the IFA, Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) and Macra, have voiced their concern over the lack of information on funding for the dairy sector under Food Vision.

“The final report is just headlines without funding and a pathway to support it. Otherwise, it’s not worth the paper it’s written on,” Arthur concluded.