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Written Answers - Beef Industry

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 762 No. 1

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 165.  Deputy Dominic Hannigan Information on Dominic Hannigan Zoom on Dominic Hannigan  asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney  further to Parliamentary Question No. 556 of 21 March 2012, if the beef technology adoption programme was tendered for competition in order that companies outside of State agencies can compete to run this scheme; the length of time for which the tender was open; the number of companies that competed for the tender; where the tender was advertised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19716/12]

 166.  Deputy Dominic Hannigan Information on Dominic Hannigan Zoom on Dominic Hannigan  asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney  further to Parliamentary Question No. 556 of 21 March 2012, under what tender the software was chosen to be used for the beef technology adoption programme; the number of users that currently use the system; the way his Department maintains a quality control system over software if his Department has no contract with the facilitators of the software; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19717/12]

 167.  Deputy Dominic Hannigan Information on Dominic Hannigan Zoom on Dominic Hannigan  asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney  further to Parliamentary Question No. 556 of 21 March 2012, the name of the private consultants who provided facilitation services along with Teagasc to his Department; the cost of these services; the way the consultants were appointed; the length of time the consultants were involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19718/12]

 168.  Deputy Dominic Hannigan Information on Dominic Hannigan Zoom on Dominic Hannigan  asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney  further to Parliamentary Question No. 556 of 21 March 2012, if any private companies were approached to provide the software for use with the beef technology adoption programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19719/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I propose to take Questions Nos. 165 to 168, inclusive, together.

[207]The establishment of an effective discussion group model similar to that successfully employed in the dairy sector was a key recommendation of the report of the industry-led Beef 2020 Activation Group which was set up to advise on the implementation of the Food Harvest 2020 strategy. The Beef Technology Adoption Programme (BTAP) giving effect to this recommendation was devised following extensive consultation and in collaboration with all industry stakeholders. The purpose of the Programme is to address the significant challenges to farm-level profitability by providing a financial stimulus that will encourage participants to improve the technical efficiency of their beef enterprises by focusing on the key profit drivers (such as breeding, animal health, financial and grassland management) thereby growing the overall output value of the beef sector.

In common with other measures supporting primary agricultural production, the BTAP will be administered and managed by my Department. The Programme will be delivered directly by my Department utilising facilitation services provided by Teagasc and private consultants. The Programme is open to all applicants meeting the eligibility criteria and independent operators are free to act as facilitators provided that they hold a B.Agr.Sc. degree (Level 8), or equivalent, and have engaged in the relevant FETAC-accredited training in facilitation. My Department does not have a contract either with the applicants or with the facilitators, who are paid directly by the applicants. Applicants are free to choose a facilitator who best suits their farming situation either from Teagasc or a private consultant. A list of all approved facilitators is available on my Department’s website. I understand that some 55 non-Teagasc consultants have submitted applications on approximately 2,200 farmers whose eligibility is currently been examined in my Department. No tenders were required for the operation of the Programme as outlined above.

It is not accurate to suggest that any particular software is used to run the programme. Participants in the Beef Technology Adoption Programme (BTAP), must be members of HerdPlus, a service provided by the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation which generates genetic evaluation and breeding performance data. As the Deputy will be aware ICBF is an industry led co-operative which receives some support from my Department to assist it to maintain a national database of cattle breeding information which is of vital importance for the future development of the nation beef herd. I am convinced that this on-going work will be of major importance in leading to the development of high quality animals which is required for the future success of the Irish beef industry, but it does not preclude the use of proprietary farm software for a range of purposes.

My intention is that this Programme will run over 3 years subject to funding and that it will be subject to ongoing review over that period to ensure that it is meeting its objectives.


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