Payments under the 2020 Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) have commenced, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has confirmed.

Announcing the news today (Monday, December 14), the minister said: “I am delighted that payments have commenced for the sixth year of this innovative programme, which is a key part of our overall commitment to support sustainable suckler beef production while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The BDGP has also introduced genetic technology into the national herd thus improving farm profitability.

Payments have started issuing and will continue over the coming days and into next week. It expected that approximately €37 million will be paid out to over 21,000 farmers.

The minister said that a key priority of his was “ensuring the rapid issuing of payments of schemes such as the BDGP in supporting our suckler beef sector” and “comes as part of the latest measure both this government and department has delivered for suckler farmers”.

I secured €6 million to fund a new suckler marketing campaign while a further €85 million has been secured as part of Budget 2021 to support sustainable beef farming – these measures include €40 million for the rollover of the BDGP, a further €40 million for BEEP [Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme] and €5 million for the calf weighing scheme.

“These come on top of the €76 million BEAM [Beef Emergency Aid Measure] scheme and the €46 million Beef Finisher payment which issued in November.”

BDGP payments will continue to issue on an ongoing basis as more farmers verify their compliance with the 2020 scheme requirements. The minister urged participating farmers “to return all surveys and genotyping samples and/or complete the carbon navigator update as soon as possible to facilitate payment”.

The minister added: “Last week I confirmed that European Commission approval had been received for the continuity of farm schemes in 2021, including BDGP.

“My department will be contacting current BDGP participants this week to explain about how they can opt into BDGP for 2021.

They will receive formal letters and SMS text messages. I want to ensure that I am protecting farm family incomes with the minimum of paperwork.

For now, farmers should consider whether they wish to continue in schemes in 2021, and be ready to reply when they are contacted by the department, Minister McConalogue concluded.