Proposed changes to the Income Supplement scheme for farmers losing animals as TB reactors have been broadly welcomed by farming organisations.
The changes represent the first revision to the scheme in over 20 years and are set to be implemented in the coming weeks.
- Increasing the rate of payment for dairy cows from €25.39/cow/month to €55
- Paying the grant when at least 10% of cows are removed from the herd as opposed to when over 10% of the herd are removed, and
- The abolition of the 100-animal ceiling are all measures that will reduce some of the huge financial burden experienced by dairy farmers in the TB eradication programme.
- Increasing the Depopulation grant for suckler cows by 19%, bringing it into line with the income supplement rate of €38/month/cow
- Increase to the ceilings on payments under the On Farm Valuation scheme from €2,800 for a bovine to €3,000 and from €3,500 to €4,000 for a stock bull and €5,000 for a pedigree bull
Fundamental changes to the TB programme had been sought by farming organisations for a long period of time in order to reduce the enormous cost burden of the disease for farmers.
Reacting to the amendments approved by the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney most believe they represent a positive step in addressing some of the difficulties.
According to the IFA’s Bert Stewart increasing the Depopulation grant for suckler cows by 19%, bringing it into line with the income supplement rate of €38/month/cow addresses some of the shortcomings in the current programme for suckler farmers who have their entire herd removed as TB reactors.
The IFA Animal Health Chairman also said extending the TB hardship grant scheme to dairy farmers is a first step in addressing the difficulties experienced with the forced retention of calves. However, in order to effectively support farmers in this situation the scheme criteria and payment conditions must be reviewed.
Bert Stewart said the Department’s commitment to alleviate the problems arising from the prohibition in EU legislation on buying in to TB restricted herds by adopting as flexible an approach to feedlots as possible and their willingness to allocate herd numbers to farmers where they have parcels of land where there are no cattle to permit them to buy in cattle is welcome.
“However these issues require further clarity and where the approach outlined above is unattainable for farmers a solution to the income loss experienced must be provided,” he said.
Bert Stewart said the changes outlined must be implemented immediately to reduce the cost burden for farmers and in this regard IFA has sought a meeting with the Department of Agriculture to discuss the outstanding issues and to clarify operational aspects of the changes.
Also commenting on the revisions ICMSA Deputy President, Pat McCormack, said that the changes announced in relation to the Income Supplement scheme for dairy cows were certainly positive and while they still fell short in relation to full compensation for those farmers unfortunate enough to be restricted due to TB, the change is certainly a move in the right direction.
“The inclusion of dairy farmers in the Hardship Scheme while supplying milk, the improved ceilings for individual animals and the amendment to the 10% rule for income supplement in relation to dairy cows would also be seen as positive progress and addressed a number of key concerns farmers have had with TB compensation schemes over the years.”
However, and on the negative side, McCormack said that ICMSA was disappointed that the depopulation grant for dairy animals was being reduced and considered it unjustified given the massive income loss and disruption suffered by a dairy farmer in the event of a depopulation.
“The reduction in the EBI co-efficient from €1.35 to €0.50 is a most retrograde step in ICMSA’s view and we’ll be meeting with the Department this week seeking a reversal of this decision. Dairy farmers have been encouraged to embrace the EBI concept and it is very disappointing – to say the least – that farmers who have followed this advice and improved the genetics of their herd to fulfil the Department’s ambitions for Food Harvest would now find themselves penalised in this way”, McCormack said.
McCormack acknowledged and welcomed the progress made but he highlighted the EBI change, in particular, as having negative consequences and said it would have to be reviewed immediately.