A new Financial Support Scheme for Calf Rearing has been announced by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
Commenting, Minister Michael 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 ongoing 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
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.