The Department of Agriculture today announced the commencement of payments to almost 26,000 suckler cow farmers under the 2013 Beef Data Programme.

Some €10 million has been provided from Single Farm Payment Scheme (SPS) unused funds for the Beef Data Programme (BDP) for animals born during 2013 and a similar level of funding from unused SPS funds is provided for animals born during 2014. This 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. In addition, a further €23 million of National Exchequer funding has been provided for the Beef Genomics Scheme (BGS) 2014.

According to Minister Coveney, the the combination of these and other measures will make a major contribution to the expansion of beef output and greater market penetration.

“I am conscious that suckler farmers have been dealing with a challenging first six months of the year and the commencement of these payments will be welcome in that regard. 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 €1.8 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,” he said.