Q&A: 2015 basis for BDGP in exceptional cases

Exceptions can be made to allow a 2015 basis in the beef data and genomics programme, for some new entrants, or applicants by force majeure circumstances in 2014.
Q&A: 2015 basis for BDGP in exceptional cases

Such farmers should apply for the scheme before tomorrow’s deadline, and the decision on whether to use a 2015 basis, where appropriate, will be decided after the deadline, said Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney.

Each herd’s number of eligible cows on which payment (and the level of genotyping required) is based is the number of suckler cows with a calving on the farm in 2014.

Minister Coveney indicated that it was not possible to select a future date base year, because any EU rural development scheme cannot include an incentive for increasing stock numbers.

“Selecting 2014 also adds a measure of administrative simplicity for farmers that will facility early payments under the scheme,” he said.

He said there is no question of payments being clawed back for minor non-compliances. “For example, where data collected is not 100% complete, where there is a minor shortfall in genotyping, where there is a minor shortfall in heifer replacements or where the carbon navigator is completed after the deadline, the penalties relate to that portion of the payment only.”

BDGP penalties cannot be applied across other schemes.

Even where an individual withdraws from the scheme or is disqualified for major non-compliances, there are force majeure provisions for difficult situations such as death, illness or animal disease. There are also provisions permitting participants to transfer land by gift or inheritance to relatives without penalty, provided the contract obligations also move to the transferee.

The operation of the scheme will be reviewed in three years time.

The Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) has compiled answers to the 10 most frequently asked BDGP questions.

Do the Euro Star indexes work? Are ICBF confident that by selecting females on the replacement index, that farmers will improve maternal efficiency?

Yes. Work by ICBF and Teagasc has clearly demonstrated the link between the Euro-Star replacement index and maternal female performance. The objective of the index is to identify animals that will have good milk and fertility, and with a good calf at foot.

Latest analysis of data from the Teagasc Grange Maternal herd (109 animals, selected based on Euro-Star replacement index in Autumn 2012), indicates that, using that index, the high genetic merit animals are clearly more profitable than their low genetic merit contemporaries, based on completed first lactation performance (See Table 1, below).

The short summary of the data from Table 1 indicates that selecting animals in Autumn, 2012 based on their Euro-Star replacement index has resulted in cows that calve earlier, are lighter at calving, but yet rear a heavier calf. These are exactly the sort of attributes that we want to see in our suckler cow.

What are the high level objectives of the scheme? What will it actually deliver?

The objective of the scheme is to increase the average Euro-Star replacement index of herds through the introduction of more four and five star animals (bulls and cows) in scheme herds. Work by ICBF and Teagasc has clearly shown the direct relationship between increasing herd replacement index and key industry metrics such as calves/cow/year and suckler cow profitability (See figure 1, above).

This analysis was based on 24,000 herds that were in the 2014 programme, that had 10 or more calvings in 2014.

Analysis of that dataset has indicated that moving herds in the scheme from 120 on herd replacement index (herds with 38% four or five star females, the average for the dataset) to 145 on herd replacement index (57% four or five star females), will result in calves/cow/year increasing from 0.81 to 0.83, resulting in another three weanlings being generated on scheme farms during the course of the programme (on an average 20-cow farm). Cumulatively, this is worth €1,200 at the farm level, or €35m for all herds involved in the scheme.

There will be other benefits from participating in the scheme, through the use of better terminal sires, in addition to improved maternal efficiency.

The net effects of these terminal gains are quantified to be €2,000 per 20-cow herd (on top of the €1,200 maternal gain from above), resulting in an overall net gain from the scheme of some €3,200 (over the six years). This equates to an additional €30/cow/year, on top of the scheme payment of some €90/cow/year.

Of course, participants should be reminded that the benefits of improved genetics won’t simply stop once the scheme finishes in 2020, and on that basis, the Department of Agriculture and ICBF are confident that benefits of the scheme will continue to accumulate over many years in the future, with a quantified total value of €300m by 2030, based on improved maternal traits alone.

What actions will farmers have to undertake in relation to the scheme. What’s new compared to the 2014 scheme?

The key actions that farmers will have to undertake in relation to the scheme are; (i) data recording, (ii) genotyping, (iii) replacement strategy, (iv) carbon navigator, and (v) training.

The data recording and genotyping actions are very similar to the 2014 scheme, except that in the context of the new scheme, there will be an increased level of genotyping (60% of the number of suckler cows calved in the herd in 2014 to be genotyped in each of the six years of the scheme).

This is to help ensure that, going forward, we maximise the availability of potential replacement four or five star genotyped females for the purpose of the scheme. The replacement strategy requirement is also new, but is crucial in the context of helping achieve the scheme objectives. That is an increase in the average replacement index of participating herds over the duration of the scheme.

The carbon navigator and training components are also new, and will have to be undertaken in consultation with trained personnel during the first 18 months of the scheme (prior to October 2016).

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