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Minister Smith announces NDP Support for Cattle and Sheep Breeding Initiatives

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today announced funding of €1.5 million under the National Development Plan to the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) for a range of beef, dairy and sheep breed improvement projects.

The Minister stated "I have provided funding to ICBF for developing the cattle breeding infrastructure since its establishment and I am delighted with the progress they have made which has added significant value to our heavily export-oriented Beef and Dairy sectors.

The unique Industry collaboration that is ICBF has helped plan for a more sustainable agri-food sector. I believe ICBF is the most appropriate business model for the application of modern science to Irish cattle and sheep breeding and will allow Irish cattle and sheep breeding to thrive in the smart economy".

He added "ICBF have clearly demonstrated that better breeding can add significant value to farm profit. Their programme is designed to improve the genetic quality and therefore to enhance the profitability of livestock production across beef, dairying and sheep and ultimately to improve the competitiveness of Irish agriculture benefitting all farmers".

On the cattle side, the funding will be focused on supporting the continued development of the beef and dairy data collection and information distribution systems, reviewing and enhancing dairy and beef genetic evaluation systems, and supporting a best practice cattle breeding campaign.  Funding will also be provided towards the cost of the Gene Ireland progeny test programmes.

The sheep programme will build on work commenced in 2009 to help move sheep breeding in Ireland to a new level of efficiency and effectiveness by developing world-class genetic evaluation systems, and data collection facilities.   International expertise has been sought to establish structures that will help sustain a viable sheep production sector through the identification of genetically superior breeding stock.  The new sheep breeding programme being developed by ICBF will be a unique combination of the best science available, along with traditional production methods which will help improve sheep farmer profitability.

Funding will be provided to allow ICBF make further progress in developing Genomics Technologies, which Ireland has taken a lead role in developing. The rapid evolution of this new Science has improved the International image and quality of Irish cattle breeding, and justified DAFF funding over many years in developing the knowledge and skills base of ICBF.

Concluding, the Minister applauded the application of state of the art scientific expertise to the livestock production sector.  "This sector is the bedrock of our agri food industry, which is worth between €7 billion and €8 billion to the Irish Economy annually", he said.  "It is a key a driver of export led growth and employment creation in the Irish economy. In that context it is heartening to see that the development of the sector is led by the application of SMART technologies to improve not only breeding, but also production efficiency and profitability at farm level, as well as innovation and competitiveness in the wider sector. It is precisely this kind of investment that will ensure that we develop a sustainable model for the future success of the agri food sector based on the practical application of leading edge technologies and research."

Photo for Press Release 31/10

Brendan Smith TD, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food with Brian Wickham ICBF and Dermot Ryan (DAF) at the announced funding of €1.5 million for a range of beef, dairy and sheep breed improvement projects.

Date Released: 24 February 2010