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Minister Creed announces new Financial Support Scheme for Calf Rearing

The Minister of Agriculture, Food & the Marine, Mr Michael Creed TD, has announced a new Financial Support Scheme for Calf Rearing. Minister Creed said, “this initiative is one of a series of measures being put in place by stakeholders in advance of the Spring calving season with a view to ensuring the highest possible calf welfare outcomes”.

 

The Minister confirmed that he was making €1.5 million available in order to fund the scheme.

The primary investment focus in on supporting calf feeding systems such as computerised calf feeders, milk carts with mixer included and calf teat feeders. When a farmer purchases one of these items, they will also be eligible to receive support for the purchase of other items, such as calf milk heaters, calf forage/hay racks, calf meal troughs, calf feed barriers and calf pen dividers.

 

The Minister said that the minimum investment required is €1,000 ex. VAT, while the maximum investment being proposed will be €7,500 ex. VAT. A 40% grant aid will apply to applications meeting all the terms and conditions of the scheme. (In the event of over-subscription this figure may be reduced). Minister Creed confirmed that applications will open on 7th January 2020. Terms and conditions and the relevant specifications will be available on the DAFM website.

 

Minister Creed added that he and his Department have been in on-going discussions with stakeholders in the livestock sectors and this important measure was in addition to other steps being taken by the various stakeholders to ensure the welfare of calves. These include:

 

  • A minimum age at which calves may be moved from their farm of birth/sold - this currently requires that they be at least 10 days of age. [i]. Recognising that the numbers of dairy bull calves being traded in farm to farm sales has been falling off in recent years, ICOS and the marts will play a key role in terms of co-ordinating and linking dairy and specialist calf rearers.
  • Calf health and welfare seminars have been arranged by the Irish Farmers Association at a number of locations around the country.
  • Teagasc and Animal Health Ireland are providing further calf care seminars early in the spring.
  • A recently compiled AHI Calf Care booklet has been distributed to all milk processors for distribution to their suppliers.
  • DAFM has engaged with exporters to ensure the welfare of calves being transported to the continent and has advised them of strengthened standards and newly updated requirements concerning booking systems at lairages in France.
  • The Farmed Animal Welfare Advisory Council (FAWAC) is currently finalising a new calf rearing advisory booklet. This will be distributed to all dairy farmers and fits in with efforts over the year under the Knowledge Transfer element of the existing Rural Development Programme.

 

Minister Creed welcomed the strong engagement by stakeholders in working towards ongoing improvement in calf welfare standards. He outlined his view that milk processors had a significant leadership role in guiding and influencing industry standards towards meeting the expectation of consumers and that he was pleased to note   moves by one large processor in issuing dairy calf management guidelines in conjunction with their milk purchasing policy document. Minister Creed confirmed that he was writing to all 17,000 dairy farmers urging them to make adequate preparation at this stage for the upcoming calving season.

 

“This effort is critical in ensuring the highest welfare standards were applied across the board in farms, marts and in the transport sector. These actions are also essential in protecting the image of Ireland as a sustainable producer of quality food,” the Minister concluded.

 

 

Note for the Editors

 

[i] The 10 day age for sale/movement is currently being further evaluated by the Department to ensure it is delivering the expected animal welfare outcomes. Provisions exist to allow, on specific application and under licence, movement of younger calves directly from farm to farm in exceptional circumstances for welfare reasons.

  

ENDS

Date Released: 19 December 2019