Saturday 1 October 2016

Department launches new information drive on genomics

Published 30/09/2015 | 02:30

Information meetings are to be held on genomics
Information meetings are to be held on genomics

Six information meetings are being rolled out by the Department of Agriculture in a bid to stem the exit of farmers from the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP).

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With an estimated 10 farmers opting to leave the scheme on a daily basis, the Department is joining forces with Teagasc and ICBF to win back farmer confidence in the programme that was designed to channel €52m a year into beef farmers' accounts over the next six years.

Approximately 700 farmers or 3pc of the 29,531 that signed up before the June 5 deadline have dropped out of the scheme.

A statement from the Department of Agriculture said that farmers are free to walk away from the scheme without incurring any clawback right up to the point where the first payments are made.

"Participants can withdraw from the BDGP, without penalty, before any payment issues or he/she is notified of an inspection. In line with EU regulations applicants can (also) apply to withdraw from the scheme in situations where force majeure applies," it said.

It added that if a participant disposes all, or part, of their land that they could withdraw from the BDGP without penalty provided they retained less than 80pc of the farm area provided for the programme.

In response to farmers' doubts about the reliability of the star ratings, ICBF's Kevin Downing said that years of factory data meant that the scheme was built on firm foundations.

Reliability

In addition, he added that geno-typing animals would increase the reliability of a typical animal from 25pc to 40pc.

"It's important for farmers to realise that they have plenty of time to reach the targets. For example, you don't need a five star stockbull until 2019," said Mr Downing.

He said that ICBF would be targeting stockbulls, pedigree animals and the higher ranked animals for genotyping initially.

"Hopefully we'll get all the cows and replacement heifers done in the first two years. By the time we get around to the calves, the sampling tags will be on hand at birth."

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