Eligible farmers are being urged to submit their payment claims under the Calf Investment Scheme ahead of the looming deadline, with the closing date set for next Wednesday (September 30).

The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) Farm and Rural Affairs Committee chairman Denis Drennan encouraged farmers to ensure that all the necessary documentation is submitted by this date in order to secure full payment.

The chairman highlighted that, so far, only approximately 700 claims for payments have been submitted under the Calf Investment Scheme out of a total of 2,400 applications.

Drennan noted that the ICMSA had welcomed the introduction of this scheme earlier this year and he said that there has been significant interest from farmers in investing in calf infrastructure.

Unfortunately, the impact of Covid-19 in early spring had affected farming like all sectors and many interested farmers have been forced to delay investments given the uncertainty around the projected duration of Covid-19 and the reduction in farm incomes.

Drennan felt that this was the most likely explanation for the slow uptake to date, adding that the Department of Agriculture should consider an extension to the closing date to allow farmers more time to complete the investment.

“Given the ongoing growth in the dairy herd, calf infrastructure will be a similarly ongoing requirement.

The ICMSA is therefore is calling on the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine to re-open the Calf Investment Scheme immediately for new applicants so that farmers can get approval for calf equipment in advance of the 2021 calving season.

“The scheme has been a welcome and useful addition and should be continued while those with completed investments should get the required documentation submitted to the department by September 30, 2020,” Drennan concluded.