Fianna Fáil General Election candidate for Sligo-Leitrim Senator Marc Mac Sharry says the Beef Genomics Scheme should be reviewed as a matter of urgency following new figures which reveal that farmers are failing to qualify for the programme because of the large volume of paperwork and lab results required.
Senator Mac Sharry commented, “The latest data released to Fianna Fáil shows that almost two thirds of farmers across the country have still not submitted all the necessary information to the Department to ensure that they qualify for the programme. This is mainly due to the large volume of paperwork and lab data that is now required. This is extremely time consuming for already busy farmers and is deterring farmers from applying for the scheme. Many of those who had initially applied have been put off by the extra workload and have decided not to follow the process through.
“Farmers in the North West are being left with an almost impossible choice. Many are dependent on the money available under the scheme to keep their businesses viable, but they are now having to dedicate large amounts of their time to completing the required paperwork and submit genotype samples.
“To date, only 10,542 herd owners have submitted genotype samples to the laboratory. More than 27,000 farmers applied for the scheme but many have not followed up with the required lab and paperwork. This shows the extent to which Minister Simon Coveney has failed to get a grip on the situation. He initially set a target of 35,000 farmers, but just over one third of those have followed through with the application process.
“Farmers are not being placated by the vague assurances given by the Minister and his Department about the scheme. In fact, as more time passes, fewer farmers are progressing their applications. They’re worried about the complexity of many aspects of the scheme and many are angry about the six year clawback condition.
“I am urging Minister Coveney to seriously review the current programme. If it remains unchanged, not only will the Minister fail to meet his targets, farmers will lose out on essential funding. Farmers must be encouraged to participate and the Minister must intervene to ensure that the programme is made accessible for farmers across the North West and across the country without delay”.