Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said farmers will not face penalties for minor non-compliances in the new Beef Data and Genomics Scheme.
The minister said: “Over 5,000 farmers have applied to join and applications are coming in at more than 1,000 per day. This shows beef farmers have decided that engagement with the scheme represents good business planning.
“The scheme remains on target for the envisaged participation rate of 35,000 farmers in total, for which funding of €52m per year has been provided in Dafm’s Rural Development Programme.”
Farmers welcomed the €300m to be invested in suckler farming over the next six years. However, the ICSA is concerned about farmers having to repay any funding received should they exit the scheme within the six-year lifetime of their contract.
Mr Coveney said: “Where minor non-compliances occur, no penalty will apply. In more serious cases there must be a penalty; on balance, I am satisfied the approach reflects the most proportionate response consistent with regulations.
“The requirement to seek full refund of payment only applies in the event of permanent withdrawal. In such cases, we included force majeure clauses where withdrawal is due to circumstances beyond the applicant’s control such as illness.”
The department has an updated FAQ note in reply to applicants’ technical questions. The applications deadline is May 29. ICSA president Eddie Downey said the statement contained nothing new. IFA president Eddie Downey said the minister failed to address farmer concerns on the scheme.
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