According to Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, 17,683 farmers are participating in the BDGP transitional scheme.
The minister confirmed that farmers in BDGP I, who had met all scheme requirements, could opt to join the transitional scheme in 2021, representing a roll-over rate of 79.5%.
McConalogue outlined that a further 1,421 farmers are in BDGP II, bringing the total number of farmers in the scheme to 19,000.
Besides, he added that 27,516 farmers are participating in the 2021 BEEP-S scheme.
Last year, the number of BDGP I participants stood at 22,243, with a further 1,422 in BDGP II, totalling 23,665. He said the DAFM issued payments to the tune of €41.5m to BDGP participants last year.
Meanwhile, it forked out in the region of €41 million to some 27,0225 farmers in BEEP-S last year.
He confirmed that 2021 payments under both schemes are scheduled to issue next month.
The minister provided the above information to Independent TD, Michael Fitzmaurice, during a Dáil debate.
Deputy Fitzmaurice said it is “worrying that 23-24% of farmers have not gone for a roll-over”.
He asked if the DAFM has conducted an analysis to identify why these farmers opted not to continue participating in the scheme.
He asked if this was the case because of:
- The non-compliance of some farmers;
- Lack of interest.
“What are the reasons? We would think more farmers would be getting involved. However, we see a drop-off of 20-25%. We are talking about 17,683 against 23,365,” he told the minister.
He called on the DAFM to review schemes to see how it can “streamline them and make them easier for farmers”.
“If we lose 25% or 24% of farmers from a scheme, it sends a message that there is something wrong, one way or the other,” he added.
In response, Minister McConalogue said: “The main reason I would see is the fact it was coming out of our five-year commitment.”
“For a variety of reasons, some people decided to draw a line after the five years and not necessarily take up the option of continuing for another year.”
“A big part of the reason was that things can change for farmers over five years.”
“We had a five-year contract that finished, and people then had the option of taking a one-year contract. The administration and red tape involved in extending for a year were minimised.”
Furthermore, he said the scheme was not open to new participants and has “no doubt if the option had been available for new people to come in for one year, it would have been a different kettle of fish”.
New suckler scheme
Concluding, the minister pointed to the new €260m Suckler Carbon Effiencicy programme, which “strengthens the funding allocation available”:
It will deliver:
- €150 per cow for the first ten cows;
- €120 per cow for the remainder of the herd.
He confirmed that the BDGP will continue in 2022, as announced in Budget 2022.