Fianna Fáil Agriculture Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue is calling on Minister Creed to immediately reopen the Beef Genomics Data Programme to farmers.  New figures received by Deputy McConalogue reveal that the programme is running almost 30% behind the initial target set by the Fine Gael-led Government of 35,000 participants.

Deputy McConalogue commented, “The beef industry is the cornerstone of Irish agriculture and employs more people than any other sector. Suckler farmers continue to depend exclusively on direct payments for their livelihoods and the Beef Genomics Data Programme provides essential funding to support these farmers.

“The figures released by the Department are extremely worrying – the number of farmers registered on the scheme has just reached 25,000 – well below the Government’s own target of 35,000.  It also contrasts starkly with the participation rates of the Suckler Cow Scheme, which were in excess of 40,000.

“It is extremely important that any underspend does not result in suckler farmers losing out on vital funds. Farming families in rural Ireland are being burdened by increased costs and price volatility, and cannot afford to lose out on essential funding programmes. I am calling on the Minister to reopen the scheme to hard pressed suckler farmers as an urgent priority”.