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Minister Coveney Announces Funding for ICBF and Sheep Ireland

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today announced funding of €2.164m in 2013 to the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) and Sheep Ireland for cattle and sheep breed improvement.

The funding is being made available under a combination of National Development Plan 2007-13 funding and an annual grant in aid. The Minister said the money would be used to improve the genetic quality of cattle and sheep produced in Ireland including the funding of a range of projects such as data collection, enhanced genetic evaluations and further development of the breeding indices to ensure they are appropriate for Ireland’s grass-based production systems.

The Minister said “I am delighted to be able to announce funding for this vital component of the Agrifood sector, despite the challenging state of National finances. The provision of the money is a recognition by Government of the long term benefits that will accrue to Irish farmers and the economy generally from improving the quality of our National cattle herd and sheep flock”.

He added; “Science based breed improvement is a critical factor in achieving the targets outlined in Food Harvest 2020 for the livestock sector. ICBF has developed a world class breeding infrastructure and has an excellent track record in improving the quality of our breeding stock. It has also become a world leader in Genomics through collaboration with Teagasc and with financial assistance from my Department. Our grass based production conditions are unique, and Irish farmers have benefitted greatly from having animals bred in Ireland which help maximise profit for farm families”. The Agrifood sector continues to be at the forefront of Irish exports; the value of meat and livestock exports in 2012 increased by 4% to almost €3 billion and despite a difficult year for global diary markets the value of dairy products and ingredients came to €2.66 billion. The Minister said that “these sectors will play a key part in driving economic recovery and job creation. A continuous farm and industry focus on improving quality will help generate further increases in export performance”.

The Minister concluded, “Government investment on its own is not sufficient to guarantee success in the National breed improvement programme. The success of ICBF and Sheep Ireland is also due to the unique industry structure and spirit of collaboration to which all stakeholders in the sector contribute.’’

Date Released: 26 March 2013