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Further Strategic Focus on the Dairy, Beef and Sheepmeat Sectors - Minister announces launch of additional phases of Technology Adoption Programmes for 2013

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today announced the launch of a new Sheep Technology Adoption Programme and additional phases of technology adoption programmes in the beef and dairy sectors.

The Minister said that he had made a total of €9 million available in the 2013 estimate for the programmes:

  • €5 million for the second year of the Beef Technology Adoption Programme (BTAP), which will encompass a broader range of beef producers, including new entrants;
  •  €3million for a new Sheep Technology Adoption Programme (STAP); and
  •  €1 million for the Development Programme for Dairying (DPD) targeted both at milk suppliers who did not take part in the earlier Dairy Efficiency Programme discussion groups and other qualified farmers involved in dairying, including new entrants.

This is in addition to €18 million provided for discussion groups in the dairy sector in the period 2010-2012 and €5 million provided for the beef sector in 2012. Subject to funding, Minister Coveney added that his intention was to run the BTAP programme for a third year in 2014 and the STAP for the next three years.

Minister Coveney said that the programmes are based on the same successful discussion group model initiated through the Dairy Efficiency Programmes 2010-2012 and are a key strategic element in driving the ambitious targets for the dairy, beef and sheepmeat sectors in Food Harvest 2020. “The programmes are intended to provide participants with the knowledge and the skills necessary to reduce costs and increase profit margins on their farms. Participants in all programmes in 2013 will be required to attend a number of discussion groups facilitated by a qualified adviser and to undertake practical tasks to assist them in improving performance in a number of areas at farm level.”

The Minister referred to the recent publication by Teagasc of an independent evaluation report on the ‘Impact of Participation in Teagasc Dairy Discussion Groups’ by Dr Pat Bogue, Broadmore Research, which has found that farmers participating in groups have a higher uptake of new technologies, achieve higher physical performance in the farm enterprise, and generate higher profits.

Commenting on the report, Minister Coveney said “in order for these sectors to reach their development potential, farmers must take steps to improve profitability. This means focusing on better management at farm level, improving breed quality, reducing the negative impact that poor herd health can have on efficiency, and ensuring that we produce the kind of animal/product that the market requires. I am confident that these programmes can only help farmers to focus on how they can adopt best practices which will help them generate the profits necessary to run their farms as successful business enterprises."  

The Minister referred to the critical importance of the dairy and beef/sheepmeat sectors to the social, economic and cultural fabric of Ireland and underlined that “the meat and dairy sectors in Ireland are highly developed industries and have many years of experience of being export focused. I have no doubt that they are already and can continue to play a pivotal role in Ireland’s economic recovery.  However we must be wary not to become complacent, particularly given the current global economic challenges we all face. We must continue to focus on producing high quality dairy and meat products, while maintaining and improving competitiveness. These industries can only develop if growth is profitable for the primary producer and these programmes can play an important role in ensuring that that is the case”.

The Minister concluded that he was confident that with a positive and collaborative approach from all stakeholders, these sectors could continue to act as examples of excellence for Ireland in terms of quality, sustainability and efficiency.

Date Released: 17 January 2013