A Department of Agriculture source has told Agriland that application forms for the new Beef Genomics’ scheme will be arriving with suckler beef farmers within the next few days.

“It’s a priority to get this matter dealt with,” he added.

“Our aim is to get the application forms out to 70,000 suckler farmers, hopefully this week. Additional information, regarding the new scheme, will also be made available on the Department of Agriculture website.  These updates should be competed by the end of today.

“The monies being made available for the genomics; scheme are being sourced nationally. The issue of additional monies to support the suckler beef sector are linked to the new Rural Development Programme.

“These matters are the subject of an ongoing public consultation programme. However, all issues pertaining to the new rural development programme must be agreed with the European Commission prior to their implementation here in Ireland.”

The Genomics Scheme is part of an overall €40m support scheme for the suckler beef industry, announced by Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney last week. The funding breakdown for the various measures is as follows:  €23m genomics programme, €10m for the Beef Data programme, €5m for the Beef Technology Adoption programme and €2m in residual payments under the suckler cow welfare scheme.

It is envisaged that he Department of Agriculture will provide a payment of €40 per head of approximately 500,0000 calves this year.

The Department of Agriculture representative continued:

“In so doing we hope to build up a genetic data base of the Irish suckler beef herd. In turn, this will allow beef farmers to identify and breed up replacement heifers with an improved genetic merit.

“We already know that the issues of fertility and carcass qualiy are challenges that confront the Irish suckler beef industry. It is envisaged that the new genomics programme will allow farmers get to grips with these issues over the coming years.

“In essence what we are doing is bringing the beef into line with the improvements already made within the dairy sector, where the use of genomics is concerned.”

Under this new scheme farmers will have to take DNA samples from 15 per cent of the female animals in their herd which will be specified by Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF), along with the stock bull, and send these samples to a laboratory for genotyping.

The results of these genotyopes will be stored in the ICBF database and returned to the scheme’s participants in respect of their animals tested.  This will mean that the farmer will be able to base decisions on breeding by using the best available genetic information on his animals which have been genomically tested.

Latest information on the new Beef Technology Adoption Programme 2014 is available here.