The Calf Investment Scheme needs to be rolled over ahead of the 2021 calving season, the ICMSA has claimed.
With more than 1.5 million dairy cows forecast to calf down this spring, the ICMSA said it was essential that on-farm calf-rearing capacity was expanded so that farmers could retain young calves for longer on the holding of birth.
The €4 million Calf Investment Scheme was announced by the Department of Agriculture for the 2020 calving season to support calf rearing infrastructure such as automatic feeders and calf penning.
However, only half of the available funds are likely to be drawn down under the scheme, with just 700 claims for payment submitted to-date from a total of 2,400 applicants.
Denis Drennan of the ICMSA rural affairs committee reminded farmers that the closing date for the submission of payment claims for the scheme is this Wednesday (September 30).
Mr Drennan blamed the low uptake of the current tranche of the Calf Investment Scheme on the impact of Covid-19.
“Unfortunately, the impact of Covid-19 in early spring affected farming like all sectors and many interested farmers were forced to delay investments given the uncertainty around the duration of the virus and the reduction in farm incomes,” Mr Drennan said.
However, the ICMSA representative pointed out that more calf-rearing capacity will be required at farm level given the ongoing growth in the dairy herd.
“ICMSA is therefore calling on the Minister for Agriculture to re-open the Calf Investment Scheme immediately for new applicants so that farmers can get approval for calf equipment in advance of the 2021 calving season,” he said.
Grant aid of 40pc is available under the scheme for the purchase of calf-rearing equipment or the installation of facilities such as calf pens.
The maximum grant attainable under the scheme is €3,000.
Meanwhile, Arrabawn is the latest dairy processor to increase its milk price for August. It lifted its price by 0.25c/l to 31.25c/l.
In other milk pricing news, Tipperary held its August price at 31c/l, while North Cork Creameries is up 1c/l to 31.5c/l. Boherbue Co-op is paying 31.2c/l for August supplies, an increase of 0.2c/l.
Strathroy’s base price for August milk is 30.83c/l.