The pressure is building to increase the application process for BDGP.
Fianna Fáil is putting pressure on the Government to reopen the applications process for the Beef Data and Genomics Programme.
Donegal’s Charlie McConalogue says the participation rates are “well below” the target rates originally set before the scheme began.
Just under 30,000 herds applied last year for it, though the actual number that have progressed through the current stages of the scheme ranges between 22000 and 24000. Some 4000 pulled out of the programme not long after applying while there is a hold up with others as they have not submitted the necessary beef data or genome samples.
Farmers who signed up to the scheme are signed into a six-year-long contract that they must see out. Up to €40 million has been paid out those who have submitted the crucial data and samples so far, though the original intended grant for farmers was €50 million. Another €250 million will be paid out through the scheme over the next five years.
Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed disagreed with Mr McConalogue’s criticism however. He feels there is an overall “positive effect” already being felt by the scheme:
“It will help to improve productivity, profitability and carbon efficiency in the Irish suckler herd. I firmly believe that the scheme will deliver long-term and cumulative positive effects for both suckler farmers participating in the scheme, and farmers who buy the progeny of suckler cows for further finishing. It is a significant contributor to Ireland’s reputation as a producer of sustainable beef,” he said.
As for whether the BDGP scheme will be reopened for applications, Mr Creed said it "will have to be considered in the context of an assessment of budgetary priorities, the operation of the Rural Development Programme and the potential impact both upon the scheme itself and other schemes."