It has been confirmed that the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) is set to reopen for applications from beef suckler farmers, who are not already members of the scheme, next week.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed recently announced the re-opening of the programme.

The scheme will be known as BDGP II and will, like the original, commit to six years of payments to farmers for completion of actions – aimed at delivering accelerated genetic improvements in the national herd and improvements in its environmental sustainability.

The success of the BDGP scheme over the course of its first two years has led to many calls for the programme to be re-opened, Minister Creed said.

Its benefits in driving both genetic improvement and sustainability of our beef farms are now well recognised.

“I have listened to these requests and examined the potential for re-opening the scheme in the context of the overall Rural Development Programme and, today, I am delighted to announce that the scheme will be re-opened.

“This is a significant investment in the suckler sector and a real vote of confidence by this Government in its future,” he said.

Details of the scheme

The scheme is set to require farmers to complete the same actions as in the original BDGP over the course of six years, starting in 2017 and concluding in 2022.

There will be a small change to the timing of the training and carbon navigator requirements, according to Minister Creed.

“From listening to the feedback from farmers in BDGP I, it became clear that the training and carbon navigator actions were found to be extremely helpful to farmers in understanding the actions that they would need to take in order to satisfy the requirements of the BDGP.

It is as a result of this feedback that I have decided to bring the training and carbon navigator actions forward to year one of this scheme.

“I am anxious to ensure as many farmers as possible avail of this opportunity to join this innovative and ambitious scheme. It is a world’s first in its use of technology and genomics to produce better, more environmentally-friendly and sustainable beef cattle,” he said.

Applications and payments

The scheme will be open for applications from next Wednesday, April 19; the deadline for applications has been set as Monday, May 8.

Further details on the application process are available by contacting the Department’s office in Portlaoise at: [email protected] or: 076-1064423.

Participants in the new scheme can expect payments to be the same as BDGP I. This will be mean that a payment of €142.50/ha will be issued for the first 6.66 payable hectares under the scheme.

Following this, a €120 payment will be issued per payable hectare after that.

The same timing requirements will apply to the return of data – in order to ensure payments can go out to as many farmers as possible in December of each scheme year, it added.

Irish beef sector

Irish beef is held in high esteem by consumers all over the world for its taste, animal welfare standards and environmentally-sound production systems, Minister Creed said.

“The BDGP aims to re-enforce these vital qualities by further enhancing our production to be at the forefront of Irish and international efforts to tackle climate change.

Simultaneous to this goal is the real and genuine opportunity for Irish beef farmers to bring about efficiencies to their herds, which can benefit them in the short, medium and long term.