This will solve the problem for 19,000 farmers who are currently not meeting the required reduction. While this will go down well with these farmers, it is likely to aggravate those farmers who didn’t join the scheme because of this condition and also those farmers who have altered their system to comply with the scheme.
This would give participants more time to reduce numbers. The reference period could be extended to 31 December 2020. An option to opt for a new reference period of 1 January to 31 December 2021 could be looked at but an announcement would be needed soon. This reference period would not affect existing compliant farmers.
While the original idea may have been to reduce cow numbers and slaughter cattle earlier, what has happened is farmers have sold cattle to other farms. Could the farmers who are in trouble just export slurry to other farms rather than “export” the cattle?
At the moment, there is a 100% penalty if a farmer fails to reduce by at least 4%. Could this change to no penalty for between 4% and 5%, a 20% penalty for between 3% and 4%, 40% for between 2% and 3% and a 60% penalty for between 1% and 2%? An 80% penalty would apply if the reduction was under 1%.