Coveney blueprint bids to treble beef discussion groups
Published 21/12/2011 | 06:00
A trebling in the number of beef discussion groups to 300 is the ambitious target set out in a new blueprint for the industry.
Details on the €5m beef discussion group announcement are being finalised for a roll-out of the initiative early in the new year.
The programme will be based on the hugely successful programme that is already operating in the dairy sector. In the space of just two years, the dairy discussion group programme has doubled the number of farmers participating in discussion groups by paying them €1,000 for participating.
However, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has set the bar even higher for the beef technology adoption programme, with a target of trebling the number of beef discussion groups.
It is hoped that this will bring the total number of farmers participating in the programme to 4,500, although the €5m budget provides for an additional 500 farmers if the average payment is set at €1,000 per participant.
"It's a very ambitious target but a good time to do it," said Teagasc's beef programme manager, Bernard Smyth. "It will be especially relevant now that beef prices have risen and it will allow farmers to rely more on what's going on inside their farm gate for their income rather than looking to Europe."
It is expected that the programme will be implemented over three years, with the possibility of extending it following a review of its operations after year two.
It will be managed by the Department with the assistance of trained Teagasc or private advisers facilitating discussion groups. It will be open to existing discussion group members and those wishing to join or form groups for the first time.