Speaking at an IFA lobby of rural TDs and senators in Dublin today (Wed) on the new Beef Data and Genomics Scheme, IFA President Eddie Downey said the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has to address the real concerns of farmers and make the necessary adjustments and flexibilities to ensure that the scheme works and delivers for farmers.
Eddie Downey said thousands of farmers have raised serious concerns about aspects of the scheme relating to the inflexibility of the six-year rule and clawbacks, the 2014 reference year, young farmers, the 60% genomic testing, the replacement requirements, penalties and other issues. “These issues must be addressed by Minister Coveney so farmers can be sure that they will not be unduly penalised and the scheme will not get bogged down in bureaucracy and excessive costs.”
Encouraging farmers to make their applications by the closing date of Friday, May 29th, Eddie Downey said the Minister will have to address farmers’ concerns. He said farmers can withdraw their applications at a later date if they are still not satisfied that the Minister has moved to address their concerns.
Eddie Downey said IFA has worked extremely hard to get the €52m funding for the scheme and the Association is determined that the full benefits will be paid out to suckler farmers by December.
IFA had put forward proposals to the Minister and the Department to address the concerns of farmers, including a rolling reference year, a mid-term review, a reduction in the genomic testing and costs, and the inclusion of 3, 4 and 5 star females as replacements as well as allowing eligible calves and weanlings to qualify along with heifers and cows.
Eddie Downey said all of these are reasonable adjustments the Minister could make to the scheme in order to address farmer concerns and ensure the scheme delivers.
IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns said Minister Coveney has to respond positively to farmer concerns on the scheme and show some willingness to address the issues. He said more than 3,000 farmers have turned out at IFA meetings across the country in the last two weeks outlining their real concerns over the scheme. He said the Minister cannot continue to ignore these farmers and their issues. In addition, he said TDs and public representatives all across the country have identified with the farmer concerns on the scheme and they have also made it very clear that the Minister needs to act to address the issues.