Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on Agriculture and Food Éamon Ó Cuív has criticised the high level of bureaucracy involved in applying for beef standard support schemes. Only 50% of suckler cow farmers had applied for the Beef Genomics Scheme and the Beef Data Programme by this year’s closing date.
Deputy Ó Cuív commented: “Farmers are being discouraged from applying to agri-schemes because of the high level in red tape involved for very little return. Many of these are small family farmers who are in urgent need of funding but are being deterred from applying by the vast amounts of paperwork and form filling involved. Farmers are also facing additional veterinary costs as blood samples have to be taken to qualify for the scheme. These extra charges put even more pressure on small farmers already struggling to cope with rising operational costs and falling beef prices.
“There are almost 73,000 suckler cow farmers in the country but fewer than 34,500 have applied for the schemes, with the low take up evident across all counties. I’m concerned that if the Minister continues with his plans for the Rural Development Programme (RDP), there’ll be a substantial fall off in the number of farmers applying for agri-schemes across the board. The low level of funding on offer does not warrant the punishing level of red tape required to qualify for these programmes.
“The Minister needs to radically reconsider the RDP and reduce the amount of bureaucracy involved in order to encourage more farmers into these schemes so that they can avail of much needed funding within the sector.”