The Beef Data and Genomics Programme has been introduced on a per hectare basis, with applicants entitled to claim for hectares equal to the number of calved cows on the holding in 2014 divided by a standard stocking rate of 1.5, and limited to the eligible forage land declared on the 2014 SPS application.
Farmers have to commit to staying in the programme for six years, and must use bulls and heifers rated four or five stars for genetic merit.
Completed application forms will only be accepted up to May 29.
The €300m programme for registered suckler beef farmers is expected to make Ireland’s suckler herd more fertile, efficient and profitable.
Seen as the world’s first programme of its kind, and building upon Ireland’s existing traceability systems and data gathered for genotyping by ICBF during 2014, the BDGP is designed to give Irish beef a unique position in global markets.
With funding approved under EU climate regulations, it will also improve Ireland’s carbon footprint, by moving towards an optimal two-year-old slaughter age, and requiring farmers to complete an on-farm carbon navigator.
Launched by Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney and the ICBF this week on Billy Nicholson’s farm in Hoddersfield, Crosshaven, Co Cork, the programme’s budget of up to €52m per annum can cater for around 35,000 beef farmers.
If the programme is oversubscribed, selection of beneficiaries will be based on criteria designed to achieve the best environmental return, with priority also for new entrants, 2014 Genomics Scheme participants, and smaller herds.
“This is being financed as a climate change measure,” said Minister Coveney. “If you have cattle that grow faster, then you are reducing feed, which is good for the environment. The benefits of genetic gain are cumulative and permanent.
Participants will sign a six-year contract to receive €142.50 per hectare for the first 6.66 payable hectares under the scheme, and €120 per payable hectare after that. They will be required to take tissue samples from certain animals for genotyping, and transmit a range of data relating to performance criteria and animal events to ICBF.
They must undergo a training course relating to the scheme before November 2016 (they will be paid €166 to cover training costs).
Replacing existing cattle with four-star and five-star animals is central to the programme’s strategy to improve the Irish herd, with benefits for the 100,000 of Ireland’s 130,000 farmers who get at least part of their income from beef.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved