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Minister Smith Announces Support For Beef, Dairy Sheep Breeding

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mr Brendan Smith TD, today announced funding of €1.8 million to the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) and Sheep Ireland for a range of beef, dairy and sheep breed improvement projects.

This investment he said "is designed to help improve the quality and profitability of livestock production across beef, dairying and sheep and also to improve the competitiveness of Irish agriculture. All farmers and their industry partners will benefit".

On the cattle side the funding is focusing on supporting the continued development of the beef and dairy breeding infrastructures, including extension to cater for the use of the rapidly developing genomic technologies, and the GeneIreland progeny test programme.

Sheep Ireland ( is a newly established entity, associated with the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation. Funding is allocated to establish a modern and advanced sheep breed improvement programme. The long-term goal of the programme is to increase the productivity and profitability of the entire Irish sheep sector. The support for sheep breeding is towards the building of a database, creation of a data capture and recording system, a new genetic evaluation system and a central progeny testing scheme.

The Minister added "I have always been committed to providing funding to ICBF as they have demonstrated an outstanding ability in developing a livestock breeding infrastructure that will maximise profit from cattle breeding and now also from sheep breeding.  I am providing funding for a range of areas that are essential to keep Ireland at the forefront of International cattle and sheep breeding activities".

The Minister said he was particularly pleased with the establishment of Sheep Ireland and commended all those involved - the Board of ICBF, the Sheep Breed Societies and farmers - for working together in a collaborative effort for the long-term good of Irish sheep farmers. He wished the endeavour well and encouraged sheep farmers and the industry to proactively support the initiative.

In conclusion, the Minister said that maximising genetic gain was essential for all dairy, beef and sheep farmers, as it would lead to cumulative and permanent gains in on-farm profitability.

24 April, 2009


Date Released: 24 April 2009