Payments amounting to €30.2m issued to 15,914 applicants in December 2015 under the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP), according to the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.

He has said that to date 21,700 applicants have submitted some or all of the required data notifications, while 22,300 applicants have submitted some or all of the required genomic samples, representing 290,000 samples.

The Minister has said that payments will continue in the coming weeks to applicants as eligibility is confirmed.

A total of 29,865 applicants were accepted into the Beef Data and Genomics Programme, of which 3,200 applicants have now withdrawn.

According to the Minister, approximately 4,300 applicants have not, as yet, returned their genomic samples.

The Department will be making contact with these herdowners in the coming weeks to remind them to submit samples to facilitate payment.

The BDGP is a new measure introduced as part of Ireland’s Rural Development Programme, from which close to 27,000 Irish suckler farmers will benefit over the next six years.

The Department has described the scheme as a world first in terms of bringing genomic technology to beef farming and has the potential to transform beef breeding, reduce the carbon intensity of our beef production and in so doing help to drive on-farm profitability.

According to the Department, the scheme has funding of over €300m which will be distributed over the next six years as part of the Rural Development Programme (RDP).

Scheme participants will receive a payment of €142.50 for the first 6.66ha and €120 for each hectare thereafter, which is the equivalent of approximately €95/cow.

In return for this payment, farmers will have to undertake six requirements which include recording of calving details, completion of surveys, animal genotyping and breeding requirements.