National suckler herd is going backwards
The quality of replacements in the national suckler herd is "going backwards" a livestock breeding leader has claimed.
Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) CEO Sean Coughlan claimed that suckler farmers are leaving the benefits of improved genetics "on the table" when he addressed the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture last week.
New figures show that the participation rate in the new Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) varies significantly across the country.
Less than 10pc of farmers with herds of fewer than 10 cows in counties such as Kilkenny, Tipperary and Waterford signed up to the BDGP, while the participation rate looks set to be almost three times higher in counties Leitrim, Roscommon and Donegal.
Farmers with herds of less than 20 cows make up three quarters of all the 73,000 suckler herds in the country, but the participation rates were the lowest in the country. For example, close to 70pc of farmers with 30-80 cows have signed up to the scheme, more than double the level among farmers with less than 20 cows.
Cork, Dublin and Tipperary have the lowest overall participation rates, with just one in three farmers signed up to the scheme. Westmeath, Longford and Carlow have the highest rates, with almost half of suckler farmers in the BDGP.
Fianna Fail agriculture spokesman, Éamon Ó Cúiv said that the figures were proof that the scheme had "failed to target support at those who needed it most".
However, the ICBF boss assured politicians that every suckler herd owner in the country will still receive a star rating for their herd before the end of July to provide a clear roadmap on the improvements necessary for the new scheme.