Just under 7,400 applications have been submitted to the new National Beef Welfare Scheme (NBWS) and over 2,300 draft applications are yet to be submitted, with the closing date one week away.
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine confirmed that, as of this morning (Tuesday, September 5), 7,395 applications had been received for the scheme, ahead of the closing date next Tuesday (September 12).
The department also confirmed that there were 2,360 applications in a draft stage on the department’s online agfood.ie portal which are yet to be submitted.
Applications must be lodged online through agfood.ie. There is no facility for late applications because scheme actions must be completed before November 1, to allow for payments to participants to issue in mid-December.
Farmers must undertake two mandatory actions as part of the scheme.
Participants must introduce meal feeding for a period of four weeks pre-weaning and two weeks post-weaning to reduce calf stress at weaning time.
Farmers will be paid €35 per eligible calf up to a maximum of 40 calves, meaning farmers can receive up to €1,400 for this action.
Farmers must also get their herd tested for infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) by engaging a veterinarian to select, blood sample, and test up to 20 animals for IBR antibodies.
When a herd has 20 or more cattle, 20 must be tested. If a herd has fewer than 20 cattle, then all must be tested.
At a rate of €15/animal for this action, farmers will be paid up to €300/herd on the IBR testing action, depending on the number of animals tested for IBR, bringing the maximum payment from the scheme (between both the testing and feeding actions) to €1,700/herd.
The scheme terms and conditions have proved somewhat controversial, especially the IBR testing requirement.
Shortly after the scheme’s announcement in early August, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) said that the inclusion of the requirement was done “without adequate consultation” on the part of the department.
TJ Maher, the IFA’s animal health chairperson, said at the time: “The IFA has consistently advocated for a collaborative approach among all stakeholders, including the department and Animal Health Ireland (AHI), to address critical issues affecting animal health in Ireland.
“The inclusion of IBR testing in the National Beef Welfare Scheme and the lack of consideration for farmers’ concerns is the direct opposite of that,” he added.