Almost a quarter of farmers who have signed onto the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) have withdrawn from the scheme since its inception.

Figures relating to the number of active participants and withdrawn participants across a number of schemes were revealed by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed, in response to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fáil TD Charlie McConalogue.

The figures show that there are currently 24,018 active participants in the BDGP scheme, while the number of applicants that have withdrawn from the scheme is 7,781.

When these figures are combined, it results in a total figure for current and former participants of 31,799. The 7,781 figure of withdrawn participants represents approximately 24.5% of that total.

In his answer, Minister Creed was keen to stress that the figure for withdrawn applicants is subject to change, as some withdrawn or rejected applications can be reinstated after an appeal.

The question posed by deputy McConalogue related to schemes under the 2014-2020 Rural Development Programme, which includes, besides the BDGP: the Knowledge Transfer Scheme; the Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS); the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) II; the Sheep Welfare Scheme; and the Hen Harrier Programme.

The figures for the Knowledge Transfer Scheme show that it has 18,204 active participants, while 1,498 participants have previously withdrawn, for a total of 19,702 active and past participants. This equates to a 7.6% rate of withdrawn applicants.

GLAS has 48,650 active participants, and 3,415 former applicants who have left the scheme. This totals 52,065, of which the withdrawn applicants make up 6.6%.

For TAMS II, the number of current participants stands at 16,640, while 656 have previously withdrawn. This results in a total of current and former participants of 17,296, and a total withdrawal rate of 3.8%.

The Sheep Welfare Scheme currently has 18,465 participants, and 1,507 former participants. These figure add to 19,972, with the withdrawal figure representing 7.5% of this number.

However, the figure for the active participants in the Sheep Welfare Scheme represents the figure for year three of the scheme. The amount of withdrawals reflects the total withdrawals over the last three years.

Finally, the Hen Harrier Programme had a noticeably lower rate of withdrawal: merely one single person has pulled out of the scheme, leaving 1,524 active participants.