IFA will insist that there is a full pay out of €52m under the new Beef Data and Genomics scheme next December, according to President Eddie Downey. Encouraging all suckler farmers to apply for the scheme before May 29th, Eddie Downey said the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney will have to make whatever adjustments are necessary to ensure all of the money is paid out to eligible applicants before the end of the year.
Eddie Downey said IFA lobbied very hard to secure the annual funding of €52m and bureaucracy cannot be allowed prevent payments to farmers. He said Minister Coveney must ensure that the maximum numbers of farmers are allowed apply and there are no delays in processing applications to allow payments by the end of this year, as promised.
IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns said this scheme for suckler farmers will have payments the equivalent of €100/€80 per cow for the next six years. He said the Department of Agriculture should be encouraging suckler farmers to apply rather than warning them away by threatening that all the monies will be clawed back if they withdraw or fail to comply.
Henry Burns said it is unacceptable that the main message on the Department’s Help Sheet is a big bold warning in red writing saying ‘If you withdraw or are disqualified from the programme for a non-compliance during the course of the six years, any payments already made will be recovered by the Department’. He said this is very negative and frightening suckler farmers, who are working on very small incomes, away from the scheme.
The IFA Livestock leader called on Minister Coveney to encourage farmers to apply, and confirm that he will ensure that the excessive complexities will not prevent payment under the scheme by next December.
Henry Burns said IFA has made farmer concerns with some aspects of the scheme very clear to Minister Coveney, particularly the costs farmers will incur to comply with some of the criteria, as well as the clawback penalties. In addition, he said there is a high level of concern among farmers about the direction of the scheme on aspects of the breeding requirements. He said suckler farmers cannot be left in a position where they are required to comply with something that is very costly or not practical at farm level.
The IFA Livestock leader said it is essential that the genomics programme now being pursued under this new programme delivers for suckler farmers.