It would not be possible to arbitrarily increase the payment to suckler farmers under the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP), the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, has said.

Currently, participants in the programme will receive a payment of €142.50 for each of the first eligible 6.66ha and €120 for each of the remaining hectares up to the maximum payable area.

The payment rate of €142.50 is the maximum amount which could be provided based on the cost incurred and income foregone associated with the actions under the BDGP, as negotiated with the European Commission, the Minister said.

“There is funding of €300m available within the scheme and it builds on my Department’s previous Beef Data Programme and Beef Genomics schemes.”

The Minister said that it is his view that this scheme is the best mechanism by which support can be specifically targeted at suckler farmers to ensure that they can develop their farm business in order to meet the challenges of profitability in this sector.

IFA Proposal

However, this week IFA Livestock Chairman and IFA Presidential candidate Henry Burns said in order to maintain Ireland’s valuable suckler cow herd, IFA believes that there is a need to increase and target direct payments towards the sector.

“The introduction of the Beef Genomic scheme of €100 on the first 10 cows and €80 on the remainder is a very positive development.”

However, IFA believes that a direct payment in the order of €200/cow will be required to stabilise and maintain the suckler herd.

IFA is also proposing to increase the number of livestock farmers participating in the New Knowledge Transfer (BTAP) programme from 5,000 to 15,000, to increase the level of payments and to simplify the scheme with more direct one to one advice between the advisor and the farmer.