According to the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, more than 8,000 farmers applied for the €5 million Dairy Beef Calf measure.
Under the scheme, the core action is the weighing of eligible calves, for which there is a payment of €20 per calf up to a maximum of 20 calves.
The ICMSA has welcomed the level of interest in the scheme, which aims to “increase the economic and environmental efficiency of beef from the dairy herd”.
Also, it aims to “facilitate further integration” of the dairy and beef sectors by providing support for farmers who are rearing progeny from the dairy herd.
Chairperson of the ICMSA’s livestock committee, Des Morrison, said the organisation’s argument that there is a need for greater integration of the dairy and beef sectors had been “fully vindicated” by the numbers applying for the pilot – particularly in light of the modest payments involved.
Common interest to produce a better-quality beef calf
He said the group has long argued that there was a need for a scheme that bridges both sectors and moves the integration process “up a gear”.
“We know that the amounts are very modest at a maximum of €400 per farmer. ICMSA is proposing that if there are surplus funds available under the scheme, the level of payment per head should be increased to utilise the full budget available. “
“The real encouragement here is the recognition of a common interest between dairy and beef farmers to produce a better-quality beef calf.”
“We have always maintained that both sectors and, indeed, the national economy will benefit from this initiative which should be developed and enhanced in future years.”
He said the farm group is about “putting positive options in front of all farmers” – regardless of sector.
“There is a need for greater integration of the dairy and beef sectors, and ICMSA will continue to advocate for a more comprehensive scheme in future years”, concluded Morrison.