IFA President Eddie Downey said there is strong support among TDs and Senators that Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney address the real concerns of farmers and make the necessary adjustments and flexibilities to ensure that the Beef Data and Genomics Scheme works.
He said, “Over 70 members of the Oireachtas attended our briefing session yesterday and each of them said they recognised the genuine concerns raised by farmers 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. They must now ensure that the Minister and his Department act to address these concerns”.
“The Minister’s decision to extend the closing date to Friday, 5th June is an opportunity for him to re-assure farmers that they will not be unduly penalised and the scheme will not get bogged down in bureaucracy and excessive costs.”
Encouraging farmers to look seriously at the benefits of the Beef Genomics Scheme, Eddie Downey said farmers should ensure their application is submitted before the new closing date. He said farmers can withdraw their applications at a later date.
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.