New schemes drive surge in herd number applications last year

Applications for new herd numbers jumped by over 30% last year, according to figures released by the Department of Agriculture.

There was a total of 4,375 new herds established during 2015 this compares to 3,335 in 2014 and 3,337 in 2013.

The spike in applications last year was associated with the establishment of a number of new schemes by the Department of Agriculture on the back of recent reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy.

In particular, 2015 saw a host of herd number applications from farmers hoping to apply for new entitlements under the 2015 National Reserve and Young Farmer Scheme which provided a payment top-up to eligible young farmers.

The surge in applications put the Department’s resources under huge pressure prior to the deadline for these schemes and resulted in significant delays in the granting of new herd numbers last year.

The Department, however, cited that waiting time for herd numbers to be allocated is dependent on a number of factors, including the volume of applications received at any given time, the return of fully completed applications, legal documentation and provision of cattle testing and handling facilities.

There were over 9,300 applications to the Young Farmers Scheme in 2015 and when finalised there will be some 6,000 successful applicants under the 2015 National Reserve.

Herd or flock numbers were first introduced by the Department of Agriculture to allow for the easy identification of both cattle herds and sheep flocks. A herd or flock number is required by law for all livestock in Ireland.

The number is unique to each individual herd or flock, which is essential for both disease eradication and control in Ireland. Such diseases include TB in cattle and Scrapie in sheep.

The herd/flock number is issued by the Regional Veterinary Office (RVO) to the keeper of either cattle or sheep.

The keeper does not have to own the animals, but has responsibility for the day-to-day care and welfare of the herd or flock.

However, the Department of Agriculture cannot make payments, such as the BDGP Payment, to herd/flock keepers, as it is classified as a non-financial role.

Payments are only made payable to the actual herd owner.