THERE was a good turnout of breeders and other interested parties at Thursday’s ITBA Southern Region talk in the Horse and Jockey Hotel.

Among topics discussed were the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR), the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS), the National Hunt Fillies Bonus Scheme and the IRE Incentive.

Chief executive Shane O’Dwyer and newly elected chairperson Cathy Grassick, together with Alex Cairns from ITM, Michelle Fogarty of Weatherbys and Alan Creighton, head of environment and nutrition at the Irish Equine Centre, were honest in their answers to questions from the floor.

O’Dwyer went into detail on TAMS and his message was ‘don’t delay’ and ‘get all your ducks in a row’ before making your application for funding when the time comes in 2023.

Tim Burke from Cashel is an expert in this area and gave valuable insight into what is involved.

“Since its inception in 2015, unfortunately the equine industry has been excluded which I always thought was wrong,” Burke explained. “Now that the EU recognises breeders as horse farmers, everything from fencing to stabling, et cetera is all included, and what you can do for yourself now is to get set up for next year.

“Make sure you have your equine premises number and a minimum of five hectares – if you don’t own it, you can lease it. Don’t forget: for any housing you need planning permission, which can take six months, and you need to have that before you can make your application.”

He also warned: “It’s all going to come out online, so there will be no paperwork. Ask an agricultural advisor in your area for advice. The minimum investment is €2,000, so if you want to get your stable doors done, crack on.”

One member of the audience asked if there was a minimum number of stock required, to which Burke responded: “That will probably be in the next round, but 95% of breeders in this country have five mares or less.”

O’Dwyer added: “We’ll get a list of what qualifies for the scheme in the next six weeks. We must stay on top of this because we want as many people as possible for apply for it, whether you have thoroughbreds or sport horses.”

ITM information

Alex Cairns relayed that ITM is working in 30 countries to get people to invest in Irish bloodstock at the sales. They will be hosting an event in Scandinavia for trainers and breeders today.

Cairns also confirmed that the next session of barrier trials will take place at Dundalk Stadium next Tuesday. He said: “Last year and this year it has really kicked in with numbers. We have a live feed now to bring in people from here and around the world.

“This is just a shop window for getting horses sold out of Ireland, and we also have our voucher schemes. We recently marked the 200th winner of a €10,000 IRE Incentive at York’s Ebor meeting.”

Feed prices

Michael Phillips from Gain spoke about the rising cost of feed. “It’s a daily thing at the moment and the price of the dollar is crucifying everything,” he said. “Ireland only produces a very small amount of grain and the weather in South America is very bad.”

Creighton added: “These prices are going to go through the roof because of the cost of transport and this year hay yields are down because there were very few second cuts.”

Cathy Grassick focused on the next generation in her short speech, remarking: “It’s so important for young people to get involved and revitalise this organisation. We want to make it a very vibrant organisation and there’s a huge amount of work being put in but it’s not a one-man operation or council. We’re so good at telling people how good we are at what we’re doing and now we have to show them.”

A rallying cry to end the meeting, with everyone present urged to think about ways of recruiting new members and, more importantly, future council members to the ITBA.