The Department of Agriculture is believed to be finalising the terms and conditions of the new Beef Data and Genomics Programme at the moment and hopes to be in a position to send out application forms within weeks.

It is understood in the next couple of weeks the Department will launch the scheme and send out the application forms to every farmer in the country with a suckler cow.

The Department had initially encountered in getting sign off for the scheme by the Commission.

It rasised a number of concerns in regard to the scheme including whether and where this scheme could fit into the Rural Development Programme, exact figures on the of the expected decrease in greenhouse gas emissions to be achieved.

The Department was also asked to explain how increased value of output will be achieved with a reduced suckler herd and less intensive resource inputs than is currently the case.

However, it is understood that the Commission are now willing to accept the science behind the scheme.

The Beef Data and Genomics Programme will be a €300m investment in the suckler herd. The Department hopes that programme will build on the strong link between the sustainability of Irish beef production and maximising the contribution of Irish agriculture to national climate change initiatives.

Suckler herd.  Photo O'Gorman Photography.

It says it will provide support to farmers to take samples for genotyping from selected animals in their herds and to provide vital breeding data to support the development of a national cattle breeding databank.

This data will provide farmers with the tools to select higher quality and more efficient breeding replacements through the use of cutting edge genomic technology.

The range of actions to be undertaken provide the basis for a payment of €80 applicable to each set of actions carried out per animal.