Cattle tag levies have been in place for years now, with a majority of the funds raised going to the Irish Cattle Breeders Federation (ICBF).
It has been reported that an estimated €750,000 is received annually by the ICBF from these levies. Farmers were given the chance to opt out of those levies last year, and almost 50% decided against paying them, 25,000 farmers.
The levy currently stands at 38 cents. The changes: The compulsory levy has been reported to be now divided between the countries three main cattle tag suppliers, after talks were held between the Department of Agriculture and ICBF officials. The levy remains at once a year payment, while farmers will again be given the chance to opt out by October of this year, and from then on it will be compulsory.
Is it really worth it? But is paying this levy really of benefit to farmers? What does it go towards? Should farmers pay it or opt out entirely?
According to the Irish Cattle Breeders Federation all money gained from these levies fund gene breeding programme activities in both beef and dairy, and also Animal events data collection. This includes Animal Event Books, the cost of keying data. While funds are also put towards genetic evaluations and infrastructure.
From looking at the hard facts, we can say that essentially it is not directly of benefit to the majority of farmers. Although it does aid in improving the genetics of Irish Cattle, and indeed keep the ICBF up and running, but it does not instantly influence a farmer's situation. Therefore is it really fair it has to come out of farmers pockets?
Incomes and Costs:
Last year, as reported in Teagasc's National Farm survey, the average income for farmers in 2016 was €26,000. Dairy Farmers averaged at €53,000 per year, Cattle farmers at between €12,500 and €15,000, sheep farmers averaged €15,000 and Tillage farmers at €22,500. This does not take into account the high costs incurred by farmers throughout the farming calendar.
Even with these average incomes farmers struggle to keep themselves afloat. Surely there would be other resources available to the governmental bodies involved where they can source other means of income for the ICBF. Could a special fund not be put in place, paid for by the government, so struggling farmers don't have to be obliged to add to their already crippling costs?
The general feeling amongst farmers, is that they will again opt out of the levy until it's made compulsory. Is it really any wonder after last year's bad weather and crop yields?