IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods has welcomed the announcement from the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed on the re-opening of the Beef Data and Genomics Scheme (BDGP) and has encouraged suckler farmers to apply.
Angus Woods said the scheme will open from April 19th and the closing date is May 8th. He said all suckler farmers who have not applied under the existing BDGP1 scheme are eligible to apply, including new entrants.
He said it is important that suckler farmers apply as soon as possible and before the closing date in order to ensure that they can get paid before year-end. He said the new scheme will run for six years until 2022.
Payments under the scheme amount to €142.50/ha on the first 6.66 ha and €120/ha thereafter. He said this equates to €95 per cow on the first 10 cows and €80 per cow on the remainder.
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 IFA has encouraged the Department of Agriculture to adopt 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.