Written answers

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Beef Data Programme

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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28. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the basis on which he hopes to pay farmers within this calendar year under the beef data and genomics scheme 2015 when payments under the 2014 scheme are only commencing now and are not scheduled to be completed until autumn 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26052/15]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Minister, Department of Agriculture, the Marine and Food; Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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Almost 30,000 applications to participate in the BDGP were received in my Department by the June 5 closing date. This demonstrates a significant interest in the Programme and is consistent with the numbers that participated in the Beef Data Programmes of 2013 and 2014 and the Beef Genomics Scheme 2014. Officials in my Department are currently finalising the initial validation of all applications received and I expect that approval letters will shortly issue to all eligible applicants.

As the Deputy is no doubt aware I have taken a number of positive steps to help to improve profitability on Irish suckler farms in a sustainable way and I believe that this scheme provides a unique opportunity to build on this. It will provide a much needed boost to the sector and involves funding of over €300 million over the 6 years of the programme. The BDGP is co-funded by the EU and is designed in such a way to ensure that it makes a positive contribution to farmer profitability while at the same time reducing the greenhouse gas intensity of Ireland’s beef production. In general higher genetic merit heifers will be more fertile, will calve younger, more easily, and at shorter intervals, and will reduce the costs associated with the production of weanlings. This scheme will help participants to identify the highest genetic merit replacement heifers. My priority is to ensure that participants attain the maximum benefit from participation in this programme.

To be eligible for payment in this first year of the Programme participants must provide the required survey data, genotype all of the specified animals and send test samples to the laboratory. Data can be provided when calves are five months old so it will be possible that all of these requirements can be met by some herds who had completed all of their 2015 calving by the end of June thereby facilitating payment in December. As the Deputy is aware, further payments will continue to be made as herds meet the Programme requirements.

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