Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo Dara Calleary says the low uptake of the Beef Data Genomics Programme is a clear indication that the scheme is a bad deal for farmers.  Figures released to Fianna Fáil from the Department of Agriculture reveal that while there are more than 7,000 suckler cow herds in Mayo, fewer than 3,000 farmers have applied for the new programme.

Deputy Calleary commented, “The figures showing the numbers signing up to the new Beef Genomics scheme speak for themselves.  Farmers who have raised concerns in the past about a range of difficulties they have with the scheme have been realised with more than half of farmers in Mayo refusing to sign up for the programme.

“Despite numerous public meetings across this county, Minister Simon Coveney has refused to listen to farmers and has pressed ahead with this deeply flawed scheme, missing his own targets in the process.  The programme, which replaces the highly progressive suckler cow scheme, has been described as one of the most bureaucratic and unworkable schemes ever announced by the Department.

“Farmers have deep concerns about the complexity of some aspects of the scheme, in particular the requirement to stay in the programme for a minimum of six years or pay back the money which they have already received.  It is completely unreasonable to prohibit farmers from reviewing the success of their participation in the scheme and to penalise them if it is found to be unprofitable for them.  There has also been strong criticism of the inflexible terms relating to the star ratings for bulls, with breeder experts calling for a relaxation of the system to allow for the inclusion of three star bulls.

“The fact that fewer than half of all suckler farmers have signed up for the scheme is a clear signal that they have no confidence in the programme itself.  Minister Coveney must begin listening to the real concerns that farmers have been highlighting over the past weeks and months.  In order for the scheme to be a success, the long term commitment of farmers must be secured, but unfortunately instead of bringing the farmers with him, Minister Coveney has left them out in the cold.  This situation must be addressed without delay if these problems are to be resolved and the targets set out as part of the scheme are to be met”.