Beef Plan has slammed the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s handling of two main farm schemes.
In its recent CAP submission, the farm group highlighted its grievances relating to BDGP and BEAM.
It stated that “there are also many situations where the hurdles to be crossed are far more cumbersome than first outlined”.
Farm Schemes: BDGP
BPM said the BDGP turned out “not to be farmer-friendly”.
“For starters, genomic tags were sent out in July each year. This turned out to be a nightmare for farmers with fragmented farms. Instead of tagging cattle in one location, farmers had now to tag animals at multiple locations.”
“This meant that the workload for these farmers also multiplied because they had to get in cattle at multiple locations, often with poorer facilities.”
“This all could have been avoided if tags had been sent out when animals were housed.”
“Another unnecessary obstacle that farmers encountered was tags arriving out to farmers in small packaged quantities and not in numerical order.”
The group believes the DAFM should have instructed tag supply contractors to issue tags in numerical order.
The group proposed a solution to this problem. It proposed that the two tags placed on calves’ ears at registration should take a sample: one for BVD and the other for genomic testing.
“The farmer could then return the samples that were required for genomic testing and dispose of the rest.”
“This would meet the department’s requirements, be safer for the farmer, and save a huge amount on labour.”
Farm schemes: BEAM
The farm group also highlighted its concerns with the BEAM scheme.
A clause in the scheme meant that farmers had to hit a stock reduction target at a set date in the year.
“Each animal was given a value depending on age. This value was also subject to change when each individual animal aged to the next reference age.”
“Qualified metamachines would have struggled to get this one right. Now a figure of 14,000 farmers has been mentioned by the department as the number of farmers likely to be requested to refund money to the department. What a mess!”
“Another part of this process that is wrong is that farmers are thrown out of these schemes without any warning and are being requested to refund the entire amount of money received for the scheme’s duration.”
“They are not even given a period of time to complete the actions which remain outstanding.”
“Beef Plan would like to see a ‘three-strike and you are out system’ brought in to rectify this situation. They should get one written warning followed by a written reminder over a period of six weeks to complete the outstanding tasks before the request can be issued for monies to be refunded.”
Furthermore, Beef Plan has called for the formation of an appeals board that includes farmer representatives.
Corley said he would hope that a Beef Plan representative would be included on this board.
“Currently, the department makes the decisions to punish farmers for shortcomings. If the farmer is not happy with the department’s decision, he then has to appeal it to the department. There is no fairness in this system,” the group concluded.