Plan to reward suckler farmers for excellence

THE IFA has proposed a new scheme to reward suckler farmers for excellence in animal welfare.

It would be financed from EU modulation funds and could deliver an annual payment of up to €80 per cow to approved herd owners, according to livestock committee chairman John Bryan.

He said the animal welfare improvement scheme for suckler herds envisages that modulation funds can be used to support best practice at the time of suckler weanling.

Mr Bryan said an initial five-year programme is proposed with scientific practices based on weanling recommendations from the Teagasc Grange beef research scientist, Dr Bernadette Earley.

The suckler welfare improvement scheme is seen as compatible with the modulation fund criteria in that it would address the issue of weanling stress in suckler calves.

He said he envisages that suckler farmers will attract the new payment if they operate to a verifiable code of practice around weanling time and can guarantee that all weanlings offered for sale are eating meals.

Mr Bryan said that the €80 per cow payment will cover the additional cost involved for farmers including meals, extra labour and management costs and an incentive to promote farmer participation.

He said a scheme on similar lines has been proposed by the ICOS National Co-operative Marts Committee.

Mr Bryan said he was confident the IFA proposal for an animal welfare improvement scheme for suckler herds would have the full support of Farm Minister Mary Coughlan and her department’s submission on modulation funds to Brussels in 2005.

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