Latest figures from the Department of Agriculture shows that at 14,497, less than half of the targeted 35,000 suckler farmers have applied to the Beef Data and Genomics Programme.

Some €300m has been provided for the Beef Data and Genomics Programme over the lifetime of the Rural Development Programme.

Participants in the programme will receive a payment of €142.50/ha for the first 6.66 payable hectares under the scheme, and €120 per payable hectare after that.

To obtain the payment, they will be required to take tissue samples from certain animals for genotyping, transmit a range of data relating to performance criteria and animal events to ICBF, and complete an on-farm carbon navigator, in order to provide them with the information they need to improve the carbon efficiency and profitability of the herd.

They will also be required to attend a training course to ensure that optimal use is made of their herd data, and to put a breeding and selection policy into practice by bringing high quality replacement bulls and heifers into the herd on a phased basis over the six years of the BDGP contract.

Minister must address farmer concerns – IFA

Speaking at an IFA lobby of rural TDs and senators in Dublin on the new Beef Data and Genomics Scheme, IFA President Eddie Downey said the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has to address the real concerns of suckler farmers and make the necessary adjustments and flexibilities to ensure that the scheme works and delivers for farmers.

Downey said thousands of farmers have raised serious concerns about aspects of the scheme relating to the inflexibility of the six-year rule and clawbacks, the 2014 reference year, young farmers, the 60% genomic testing, the replacement requirements, penalties and other issues.

These issues must be addressed by Minister Coveney so farmers can be sure that they will not be unduly penalised and the scheme will not get bogged down in bureaucracy and excessive costs.

Encouraging suckler farmers to make their applications by the closing date of Friday, May 29, Eddie Downey said the Minister will have to address farmers’ concerns.

He said suckler farmers can withdraw their applications at a later date if they are still not satisfied that the Minister has moved to address their concerns.

IFA Proposals

  • Rolling reference year
  • Mid-term review
  • Reduction in the genomic testing and costs
  • The inclusion of 3, 4 and 5 star females as replacements
  • Allowing eligible calves and weanlings to qualify along with heifers and cows.

Downey said all of these are reasonable adjustments the Minister could make to the scheme in order to address farmer concerns and ensure the scheme delivers.

Minister can’t ignore farmers

IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns said Minister Coveney has to respond positively to farmer concerns on the scheme and show some willingness to address the issues.

He said more than 3,000 suckler farmers have turned out at IFA meetings across the country in the last two weeks outlining their real concerns over the scheme.

The Minister cannot continue to ignore these farmers and their issues.

In addition, he said TDs and public representatives all across the country have identified with the suckler farmers concerns on the scheme and they have also made it very clear that the Minister needs to act to address the issues.