IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns said the IFA campaign on the Beef Data and Genomics scheme has secured important changes and clarifications to the scheme, which will be very important in encouraging farmers to stay in the scheme.
Henry Burns said Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney must immediately set up the working group to secure further changes and modifications that are necessary under the scheme and also work with EU Commissioner Phil Hogan to secure EU agreement on necessary changes in the context of the mid-term review.
Regarding the six-year rule, Henry Burns said Minister Coveney has now confirmed to IFA that if a farmer applicant sells or leases land, or transfers it by inheritance or gift and as a result leaves the scheme, there will be no clawback of funds under the scheme.
On the replacement requirement for 4 and 5 star animals, born after 2013, to be at a level of 20% by 2018 and 50% by 2020, Henry Burns said the Department have now confirmed to IFA that they are changing this requirement to allow all 4 and 5 star animals currently in the herd qualify to meet the 2018 and 2020 requirements. He said this will help more farmers meet the requirements and remove the necessity for some farmers to sell good 4 and 5 star cows and buy younger animals just to meet the requirements of the scheme. The IFA Livestock leader added that the Minister needs to adjust the replacement to allow 3, 4 and 5 star animals qualify under the scheme.
On the 2014 base year, the IFA Livestock leader said Minister Coveney has also confirmed to IFA that 2015 may be used by new entrants. In addition, he said the Minister has made it clear that if force majeure or other circumstances in 2014 had an adverse impact on stocking levels and as a result application numbers, this will be taken into consideration on a case by case basis. He said both the Minister and the Department have assured IFA they will adopt a very flexible approach to these situations.
Henry Burns said IFA has been working hard on reducing the genotyping costs for farmers with both the Department of Agriculture and ICBF. He said IFA is determined that the €30 genotyping costs from last year must be substantially reduced under the new scheme. He said farmers feel strongly that the 60% genotyping requirement was set way too high and it is essential there is a 20% to 25% reduction in the genotyping costs.
The IFA Livestock leader said ICBF will be writing to all 30,000 farmers who joined the scheme by the end of July with details on the animals in their herd. He said farmers should examine this data carefully and consider their options. Henry Burns said it is clear further changes and modifications to the scheme are necessary and he encouraged farmers to stick with the scheme.