Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney should use this year’s projected GLAS under spend to double the genomics payment for suckler herd owners, according to Fianna Fáil Agriculture Spokesman Éamon O Cuiv.

“The Minister claims there will be no underspend, but he is living in self-denial,” said O Cuiv.

“The reality is that there will be an underspend of €50m and this money could be put to immediate good use by topping up the genomics’ payment by €100. This doubles the money on offer, from €100 to €200 per head.”

O Cuiv bases his calculations on an estimated figure of 50,000 farmers applying for the genomics’ payment.

“Assuming these farmers have an average of 10 cows each, the total budget required to meet the cost of my proposal works out at €50m. At the end of the day, the final figure might come in slightly lower than this.

“However, the reality remains that the agriculture minister is missing out a real opportunity to put much needed money in the farming industry.”

Looking ahead O Cuiv believes strongly that agriculture will be a core issue in the context of the next general election campaign.

“Farmers are fast becoming aware of the under spending that has been a feature of so many support schemes introduced over the past number of years,” he said.

“The issue of the €60m super levy bill for 2014/15, which Irish milk producers will have to pay over the next three years, has gone down very badly in rural areas. This is particularly the case in light of Minister Coveney’s claims to the effect that he was responsible for getting the last CAP reform package over the line.

“There are approximately 500,000 farm family votes up for grabs in the next election. And their destiny could determine who wins or loses the last seat available in every rural constituency.”