Compulsory ICBF tag charges still on the table
The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, has refused to rule out the introduction of a compulsory animal tag charge to help fund the Irish Cattle Breed Federation (ICBF).
When asked in the Dáil by the Independent TD for Roscommon-Galway, Michael Fitzmaurice, if such a move was likely, Minister Creed did not answer the question.
However, he admitted that discussions were "ongoing" between ICBF, industry stakeholders and DAFM regarding the funding concerns at the breeding body. ICBF could lose close to €500,000 in income as a result of changes to the tag supply agreements, it emerged over recent weeks.
More than half the farmers who purchased animal tags this year have declined to pay the 'voluntary' ICBF levy of 38c per set.
This levy, which was formerly included in the overall tag price, delivered close to €850,000 in annual funding for ICBF in the past but returns have collapsed this year.
It has been suggested in farming circles that the Department is considering making the levy mandatory in a move to shore up ICBF's finances.
The federation's annual running costs are believed to be in the region of €8m.
Minister Creed pointed out that ICBF delivered a "public good" through its work in cattle breed improvement.
"The objective of the ICBF is to achieve the greatest possible genetic improvement in the national cattle herd for the benefit of Irish farmers and the national dairy and beef industries," he said.
However, Deputy Fitzmaurice took issue with Minister Creed's assertion that ICBF was a "farmer-led" organisation and questioned the advisability of forcing farmers to fund its activities.
"We need to take a close look at how the ICBF is funded, and taking money out of farmers' pockets without them having a say is not acceptable.
"The main farm organisations also need to oppose this move," he said.
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