Some 32,000 suckler farmers are to start receiving payment under the Beef Data Programme in the coming weeks.

It was announced by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney.

“I am pleased that these payments will begin issuing to suckler farmers participating in this programme next week”, the Minister said.

This year the payments will proceed in two tranches. The first is an 80% advance payment and the balancing payment will issue when information on autumn born calves has been finalised. The level of funding is similar to 2013.

The Minister said the programme assists farmers in improving the genetic quality of their livestock, while maintaining a flow of crucial data to Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) that will generate advances in cattle breeding at national level.

“I am delighted to say that there has been a 21% increase in the participation level in the Programme this year with 5,700 new suckler farmers being paid this year. There figures are a vote of confidence in the Irish beef industry and its future.”

The Minister went on to say that 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 €2 billion per annum.

“The Beef Data Programme in conjunction with the Beef Genomics Scheme increases the breeding data available and harnesses technology in a way that improves efficiency and ultimately profitability at farm level.

“I am convinced that the combination of these and other measures will make a major contribution to the expansion of beef output and greater market penetration.”