May 22nd 2015
Senior ICSA representatives today met with Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine officials to lobby for greater flexibility in the new Beef Data and Genomics Programme and to insist on the removal of potentially severe penalties for aspects of the requirements which are outside of farmers’ control.
Speaking after the meeting, ICSA president Patrick Kent said, “ICSA is adamant that withdrawal from the 6-year contract should not result in a clawback of monies received by farmers up to the time of withdrawal. The Department insists that this is related to EU rural development regulations regarding schemes with a climate change element, but we cannot accept it.”
“ICSA also argued strongly that the requirement for 50% of the herd to be four or five-star on the replacement index was neither warranted nor within a farmer’s control.”
The ICSA team was severely critical of the potential for penalties of up to 140% of the value of one year’s payment, and emphasised that a farmer should only be penalised for deliberate omissions or breaches of the programme requirements and not for uncontrollable situations.
“ICSA also challenged the Department on the need for unannounced inspections,” said Mr. Kent. “This is a data-based scheme built around the supply of easily-verifiable information backed up by DNA testing, and unannounced inspections are completely unjustifiable.”
The ICSA representatives pushed for an extension of the closing date for the scheme so that farmers’ concerns could be fully addressed and outstanding issues resolved.
“It is ICSA’s intention to continue to negotiate for changes, but in the meantime farmers need to be fully aware of the details of the scheme and of the option to withdraw at a later date without penalty,” concluded Mr. Kent.