It is not correct to say that exported animals are excluded from the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP), according to the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.

The comments come following concerns raised by newly elected Fianna Fail TD Bobby Aylward who asked the Minister to provide an explanation for the exclusion of exported cattle from the beef data and genomics programme from recording by processing factories.

He said this leads to a situation where farmers who export cattle and contribute to the country’s overall indigenous exports will not receive the appropriate credit from his Department under the current Euro-Star index rating system for cattle as proposed.

However, the Minister said in response that it is not correct to say that exported animals are excluded from the BDGP as all of the required actions, including data recording and genotyping, can be carried out in herds which export some of their progeny to markets outside of Ireland.

He said as is the case for all cattle in the BDGP, these participants will be required to record key data on all male and female calves, regardless of whether they are planned for export or not, on an annual basis for important traits such as calf quality, calf docility and health and disease traits, as well as information on the sires and the dams of these calves.

All of this data will be integrated into the National genomic evaluation system resulting in more accurate €uro-Star evaluations to the benefit of the farmer himself, including those that are in the business of exporting calves, and the wider industry, according to the Minister.

As such, he said the data collected through the BDGP is central to ensuring that the value of these exported animals is accurately reflected in the indexes and that suckler herds producing animals for export are not excluded from the programme.

In addition, the Minister said it should be noted that the ICBF also collects data regarding the weights and prices recorded for a large volume of these animals which are sold through livestock marts prior to export, which again provides additional data to go towards improving the accuracy of the indexes.

He also said that ICBF are committed to working with exporters, buyers and processors in the third country markets which take live exports of cattle from Ireland in order to collect additional.

This, he said will help assist ICBF in accurately representing the value of these animals through the indexes developed.

The BDGP was launched on May 5 and the Department received almost 30,000 applications by the extended closing date of June 5.

The Programme forms part of Ireland’s Rural Development Programme and allocates funding of some €300 million over the next six years to suckler farmers in Ireland.

As the deputy is aware, the BDGP will compensate participants for the cost incurred and income foregone in undertaking a number of actions such as genotyping, data collection and the introduction of animals with a higher genetic merit.