Farmers signing up to the Beef Data and Genomics Programme must be allowed to exit mid-scheme without penalties, says ICSA suckler chairman Dermot Kelleher.
While welcoming the new scheme, Mr Kelleher said there are many reasons why someone might have to withdraw from the scheme during the six years, citing death, illness, family or financial difficulties.
“We cannot accept the condition that farmers who pull out of the scheme at any stage will have to pay back any monies received up to that point,” he said.
“The biggest reason a farmer might want to pull out is lack of profit,” he said.
“Farmers must be allowed to review an enterprise on a regular basis and if it is not sufficiently profitable, they must be allowed to change direction without penalty.”
“Any rule which puts a gun to the head of farmers forcing them to stay at suckler farming is only of benefit to meat factories. Schemes should not disadvantage farmers and benefit meat factories,” he said.
Mr Kelleher said it would be a disgrace to force a farmer to pay back money he had earned while fulfilling every other requirement of the programme bar the core challenge of making a profit.
“It is not acceptable that a farmer might lose money for failure to reach the four-star target for replacements,” he said.
“We have to recognise that smaller suckler herds will have difficulty justifying the cost of a four/ five star stock bull. I am also hugely concerned that forcing people to breed heifers which are four or five-star on the replacement index will compromise their ability to produce export weanlings.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved