Farmers who apply for support under the new Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP), but retire before the end of the six-year period, will not be penalised on payments made up to that point, according to IFA national livestock committee member for Co. Mayo Brendan Golden.

“The Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney clarified this point at our meeting in Claremorris last night,” he said.

“He also confirmed that in those instances when clawback-related measures are implemented, these would only relate to the specific aspects of the scheme for which the farmers concerned are deemed to be in breach.

“Total clawback will only be considered in cases where farmers are found to be non-compliant with regard to 60% plus of the measures within the scheme.”

Golden said that approximately 1,000 farmers attended last night’s meeting.

“The down side to the proceedings was the absolute refusal by the Minster to consider the IFA’s proposals relating to the introduction of a rolling reference year and the acceptance of 3 star heifer replacements for the new scheme, as opposed to 4 star or 5 star animals.

“He also refused to budge on the requirement for farmers to genomically assess 60% of their animals on an annual basis.”

Golden said that the Minister’s rationale on these matters centred on the assertion that fundamental change to the scheme would require agreement from the EU Commission. This would rule out BDGP payments of any nature being made to farmers this year, he said.

“Coveney agreed that Department of Agriculture staff will review BDGP in three years’ time. But this was cold comfort for many of the farmers attending last night’s event.

“I am firmly of the view that a significant number of farmers, who have already submitted BDGP applications, may well pull out before Friday’s closing date.

“My phone has been red hot over the past few weeks with farmers telling me that they are totally fed up with the amount of red tape now facing them and their fear of more inspections.”