Fianna Fáil TD for Laois/Offaly Barry Cowen has criticised the high level of bureaucracy involved in applying for beef standard support schemes. Only 48% of suckler cow farmers in Offaly had applied for the Beef Genomics Scheme and the Beef Data Programme by this year’s closing date.
Deputy Cowen commented, “Farmers in Offaly are being discouraged from applying to agri-schemes because of the high level of red tape involved for very little return. Many of these are small family farmers who are in urgent need of funding but are being deterred from applying by the vast amounts of paperwork and form filling involved. Farmers I have spoken to in Offaly also tell me they are also facing additional veterinary costs as blood samples have to be taken to qualify for the scheme. These extra charges put even more pressure on small farmers already struggling to cope with rising operational costs and falling beef prices.
“There are 1,735 suckler cow farmers in Offaly but only 843 have applied for the schemes, which is 48% of these farmers.
Deputy Cowen said he was concerned that if Minister Coveney continued with his plans for the Rural Development Programme (RDP), ther would be a substantial fall off in the number of Offaly farmers applying for agri-schemes across the board.
“The low level of funding on offer does not warrant the punishing level of red tape required to qualify for these programmes. The Minister needs to radically reconsider the RDP and reduce the amount of bureaucracy involved in order to encourage more farmers into these schemes so that they can avail of much needed funding within the sector,” he concluded