IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods has said Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed should immediately reopen the Beef Data and Genomic Programme (BDGP) for suckler farmers.
He said farmers in the scheme are receiving their genotype testing tags for 2016 and this would be the ideal time to reopen the scheme to allow in new entrants and farmers who originally withdrew from the scheme last year.
Angus Woods said funding is not an issue, as Minister Creed has said he is absolutely committed to spending the full €300m allocated to the scheme and this level of funding can accommodate up to 30,000 farmers. He said originally about 30,000 farmers applied to the scheme but following withdraws there are only 25,000 farmers in the scheme currently.
Angus Woods said IFA is pushing for an extra €25m in funding in Budget 2017 for suckler supports. He said Ireland needs to have a stronger policy on supporting the critically important suckler cow sector, which is the back bone of our quality beef sector. In addition, he said unused funds from the Knowledge Transfer Programme could be utilised in this regard.
Angus Woods said a lot more resources and work need to be directed to encourage and facilitate the live export trade, which is essential to price competition across the entire beef sector as well as to profitable suckler cow production. He said a strong coordinated national strategy needs to be put in place on live exports, led by the Minister for Agriculture.