21st May 2015
ICSA president Patrick Kent has slammed the 6-year contract requirement for the new beef data and genomics programme, saying “It is completely and absolutely unacceptable that farmers would be treated this way. All the evidence points to the incredible commitment and dedication shown by suckler farmers to date, particularly given the huge difficulty in making a living in this sector.”
“The Minister is showing total disregard for farmers by offering this scheme in its current format, and ICSA is adamant that the 6-year commitment must be abolished. The force majeure clause only covers a tiny proportion of the many legitimate reasons why a farmer might have to quit the scheme before its conclusion, most of which would be financial. If Minister Coveney really wants to encourage farmers to stay in suckling for the long term, then he must do more to ensure that they can get a fair price for their produce and make an adequate living from their enterprise.”
“The penalties attached to failure to reach the four and five-star targets on the replacement index by 2020 are totally over the top,” continued Mr. Kent. “Instead, ICSA wants to see more flexibility on targets and also a complete movement away from the Department’s penalty mindset. This scheme should be about a mutually beneficial process of co-operation between farmers and ICBF, and a regime of savage penalties is, therefore, highly inappropriate, particularly given that the knowledge in this area is an evolving process.”
“Also, ICSA believes that the requirement for 60% genomics testing is excessive and that farmers will eventually run out of livestock to test. We also believe it is totally unacceptable that the cost of this testing is being foisted on farmers – the scheme’s funding should cover this. Forcing farmers to cover the cost of the scheme will also ensure that companies have no incentive to reduce prices through natural competition.”
Finally, Mr. Kent attacked the fact that, yet again, the Department has shown an unhealthy obsession with unannounced inspections without good reason. “As this is a data-based scheme built around the supply of easily-verifiable information and indeed, DNA tests, the purpose of unannounced inspections on farms is incomprehensible,” he said.
ICSA is meeting the Department tomorrow (Friday May 22nd) to argue for the reconsideration of these key issues. In the meantime, Mr. Kent demanded that the closing date for the scheme must be extended.