IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods has said he expects the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) to re-open to new entrants this spring with applications in April and before the BPS closing date of May 15th.
Angus Woods said IFA has been lobbying the Department of Agriculture hard for the BDGP to re-open and secured a commitment from Minister Creed on this in last year’s Budget. He said it is vitally important that farmers who join the scheme this year will get paid before year end. He said a new scheme starting in 2017 for six years would run until 2022.
The IFA National Livestock Chairman said there are 24,500 suckler farmers with 530,000 cows in the current scheme and they have received over €90m in payments to-date. He said the BDGP is a very important support for the suckler cow herd and there is potential to get at least another 5,000 farmers into the scheme.
More than 24,000 farmers were paid €44m in 2015 and a further €39m was paid out under the 2016 scheme late last year to almost 21,000 farmers. Angus Woods said IFA is pushing to get any outstanding cases paid and to get farmers to complete outstanding data requirements. He said inspections and BVD are the other major issues holding up payments.
Angus Woods said it is important that the Department of Agriculture adopts a more flexible approach on the commitments producers have to make over the duration of their participation in the BDGP. He said this is particularly important in the context of the uncertainty around with Brexit and beef. He said has IFA has secured improvements around farm transfers and leasing from the original scheme.
Angus Woods said IFA continues to make a strong case to increase the level of funding for suckler cows up to €200 per cow. He said incomes on suckler farms are extremely low and it is vitally important that targeted direct payments are increased to tackle this severe income problem. He said “IFA is very strong in its view that the important suckler sector must be strongly supported and prioritised for increased targeted direct supports of up to €200 per cow.”
A study for IFA by former UCD Professor of Agricultural Economics Alan Renwick shows that each €1 of support invested in the beef sector, underpins over €4 in output in the Irish economy. At local level, the study showed that the cattle sector is embedded in the local economy, with 80% of cattle output sold in the area and over 90% of inputs sourced in the local area.