Fianna Fáil Agriculture Spokesperson Éamon Ó Cuív has said that the supplementary estimates for agriculture show that there will be an underspend on the Beef Genomics Scheme totalling €80 million over the next 6 years.

Deputy Ó Cuív said: “Minister Simon Coveney has confirmed an underspend amount of €17 million for 2015. This information was included in the small print of the supplementary estimates for agriculture, which were put before Dáil members last week by the government.

“Alarmingly, this represents a 32% underspend for the current 12 months and confirms that the scheme is not being accepted by farmers.

“Minister Coveney needs to seriously re-evaluate the programme. It is not working in its current form. Targets are already being missed and farmers are not being incentivised to take part in it.

“It is an imperative that the minister ensure that this underspend does not result in farmers losing out on these funds. Unspent monies on the Beef Genomics Scheme should be used to supplement payments under the Area for Natural Constraint scheme.

“Minister Coveney has also confirmed that Ireland will pay €68.9 million to the European Commission due to the Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS) penalty. This is another big hit on Irish farmers, as it will see national funds that could have been used to improve farm sustainability in this country.

“Once more farming families are being burdened by increased financial burdens, price volatility across sectors, stagnant prices for produce as rural communities struggle to make ends meet. No amount of government spin can escape these facts.”