Farming payments under the beef, sheep and dairy discussion group programmes will commence shortly to farmers around Ireland.

Speaking on the announcement today, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said he was “pleased to see that these payments valued at €9m will begin issuing to the farming community as planned”.

He added: “While I see participation in these programmes as hugely beneficial to the individual farmers concerned, there is also a wider benefit to each of the farming sectors concerned.”

Following the success of the Dairy Efficiency Programme in helping to meet the Food Harvest development goals for the dairy sector, Minister Coveney secured additional funding in 2013 which allowed for the introduction of the discussion group model for both the beef and sheep farming sectors.

The minister confirmed that the total budget for these programmes in 2013 is €9m, with individual payment rates of €1,000 for dairy farming participants and €825 for sheep and beef farming members.

“Research has shown that participation in discussion groups has a real and tangible benefit for farmers, driving measurable growth in profit margins.” He added that he was “encouraged at the level of commitment shown by the farmers concerned, with some 10,000 farmers successfully completing the 2013 programmes”.

The minister concluded by “urging all farmers to do their utmost to participate fully in the schedule of meetings and events in 2014, thereby safeguarding their payments under the 2014 programme. More importantly he said that this would ‘ensure the desired transfer of knowledge and skills that will ultimately benefit everyone in the industry”.