Fianna Fáil TD for Louth Seamus Kirk has called on Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to make substantial changes to the Beef Data and Genomics Programme. Deputy Kirk made the comments following a meeting with the Irish Farmers Association.
Deputy Kirk said, “Today I met with members of the IFA who raised serious concerns over the current structure of the Beef Data and Genomics Programme. Farmers in our county say the scheme is not workable and they won’t be taking part in it.
“Farmers continue to highlight that the new scheme is over complicated and will impose excessive costs on participants. The current conditions attached to the scheme are turning away potential applicants. The Minister has put in place a rule that will bar any new applicants to the scheme following the close of applications, even if desirable changes are made to the scheme in the future.
“Minister Coveney has also put in place draconian rules that will see all payments made over the lifetime of the programme clawed back should farmers withdraw from the scheme. This is totally unreasonable and will have a negative impact on farmers who are forced to withdraw from the scheme due a change in their personal circumstances.
“Farmers should also be allowed apply to the scheme based on the size of their suckler cow herd in 2015. Limiting the scheme based on the number of cows calved in 2014 is restrictive and places an unnecessary limit on those who want to expand their herd size in the future.
“The Minister needs to take on board the concerns that farmers and agri-organisations have with the scheme. The outstanding issues in relation to the six year rule, star ratings and the overly bureaucratic nature of the scheme need to be resolved” said Deputy Kirk.