DUBLIN, Oct. 15 -- The Ireland Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine issued the following news release:
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today announced support measures for the beef sector that will result in payments of EUR40 million to suckler farmers in 2014.
Minister Coveney said "I am delighted that we are in a position to fund these measures, which together will result in investment of EUR40m in our beef sector next year. The suckler herd is the seed bed for a quality beef industry involving more than 100,000 farm families, employing almost 8,000 people in processing, sales and marketing, and driving exports valued at approximately EUR1.8 billion per annum. It is critically important that we position the Irish beef sector to maximise the opportunities arising from global population growth and increasing demand for protein. Harnessing technology in a way that improves efficiency and ultimately profitability at farm level is key, and I am convinced that the combination of measures announced today can make a major contribution."
The key element comprises EUR23m for a new Beef Genomics Scheme. Payments of EUR5m for the continuation of the Beef Technology Adoption Programme, EUR10 million from unspent Single Farm Payment Funds for the Beef Data Programme and EUR2 million under the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme will bring total payments direct to suckler farmers to EUR40 million in 2014.
Referring to the continuation of the Beef Technology Adoption Programme (BTAP) with a funding allocation of EUR5 million, the Minister said "this funding will build on the outstanding success of the previous two years of the BTAP programme to allow its continuation for a third year"
The programme provides a forum for farmers to share information, develop business plans and improve the productivity of their farms under the guidance of public and private sector facilitators. Almost 5,500 farmers received an annual payment of EUR925 each under the 2012 Programme.
Some EUR10m will also be paid for the Beef Data Programme in 2014. In 2013 approximately 34,000 farmers applied for the Programme, which assists farmers in improving the genetic quality of their livestock, while maintaining a flow of crucial data to ICBF that will generate further advances in cattle breeding at national level.
Referring to the new Beef Genomics Scheme, Minister Coveney commented "I have been able to obtain some EUR23m in exchequer funding for the Beef Genomics Scheme. This will provide suckler farmers with a payment of EUR40 per calf in return for which the farmer will be required to take samples from stock bulls and a selection of suckler cows for genotyping. This will help to accelerate the kind of genetic improvement that will drive efficiency and increase profitability at farm level. Together with the Beef Data Programme, this will provide for payments of up to EUR60 per calf in the suckler herd."
Concluding, the Minister said "This initiative will help to place Ireland firmly to the forefront globally in beef genetics, enhance our reputation as a world leader in sustainable food production, increase the carbon efficiency of the sector, and from a marketing perspective, help to reinforce the uniqueness of our offering on EU and world markets. The collection of this vital genetic information can also provide a building block for the development of a genetic traceability system which would be a global first, placing Ireland firmly in first place globally when it comes to consumer assurance and traceability. The transfer of knowledge and best practice to beef farmers through the Beef Technology Adoption Programme and the collection through the Beef Data Programme of animal events data that will link to the genetic data gathered through the Beef Genomics Scheme, are key examples of the smart green growth initiatives proposed in the Food Harvest 2020 Strategy".
While operational details have yet to be finalised, the Minister indicated that farmers wishing to participate in the Beef Genomics Scheme must also participate in the Beef Data Programme.
Full details of the Scheme's terms and conditions will be outlined in due course.
Note for editors:
The beef sector represents approximately 32% of Ireland's agricultural output value, with ex farm sales of valued at approximately EUR2.1 billion, and factory turnover of around EUR3 billion. It is export focussed, with 99% of exports going to high value EU markets, and employment rich, with approximately 110,000 farm families involved in primary production, including 80,000 specialist beef farmers, and some 8,000 jobs in processing, sales and marketing.
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