Withdrawals from BDGP ‘inevitable’ says department

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has confirmed this week that, while there has been “a number of withdrawals” from the Beef Data Genomics Programme (BDGP), “it is inevitable that some participants will seek to withdraw at some stage”.

BDGP is a support scheme for the suckler herd and aims to improve the genetic merit of the national herd through the collection of data and genotyping of animals. It also seeks to lower greenhouse gas emissions by improving quality and efficiency.

Meanwhile, in a statement to AgriLand, the department pointed to the commencement of stage 1 of the programme in 2015 and stage 2 in 2017 – both of which will run for a period of six years.

A spokesperson said the programme represented a significant commitment for farmers over the duration and it was, therefore, inevitable that “some participants will seek to withdraw at some stage”.

‘Ill-health and incapacitation’

“A significant proportion of withdrawals each year are due to ill-health or incapacitation and in such cases force majeure – as provided for in the terms and conditions (T&Cs) – will be applied with no recoupment of monies paid under the programme,” the spokesperson added.

However, there are a number of cases annually where withdrawals are due to a change in farming system or farmer circumstances.

“In such instances any monies paid over the course of the programme will have to be repaid as per the T&Cs. Since the start of 2019 we have seen some 80 withdrawals across both programmes.”

The spokesperson went on to say that scheme participants will receive a payment of €142.50 for the first 6.66ha and €120 for each hectare thereafter.

“In return for this payment farmers will have to undertake six requirements which include the recording of calving details, completion of surveys, animal genotyping and breeding requirements,” she continued.

‘Assessment and commitment’

Meanwhile, last week, while responding to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson for agriculture, food and the marine, Charlie McConalogue, Minister Michael Creed confirmed his commitment to reviewing the BDGP.

We are now approaching the final year of the BDGP scheme under the current Rural Development Programme (RDP).

He continued: “The lessons learnt from the current programme will inform our assessment of the most appropriate supports for the suckler sector going forward.

“My department is examining all appropriate measures to support the different agri-food sectors – including the beef sector – in preparation for the next iteration of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

“I will continue to argue for as strong a CAP budget as possible post-2020.”