Four thousand extra farmers will participate in the Government’s new suckler scheme compared with the final number that took part in its predecessor.
Some 20,524 farmers applied to the Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme (SCEP), while just over 16,000 farmers completed the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) as of last year. Numbers in the BDGP waned as the scheme came closer to a conclusion.
Farmers in the west of the country have dominated applications to the scheme.
Galway has the highest number of farmer applications with 2,428 farmers applying. This is an increase of nearly 600 farmers from the BDGP, as the map shows.
It is followed by Mayo, with 1,886 farmers in the county applying to the scheme, an increase of 357 compared with those who completed the BDGP.
A total of 7,090 farmers applied for the scheme in Connacht, while in all of Leinster’s 12 counties, 4,553 farmers applied.
Clare farmers came out on top in Munster, with 1,791 farmers applying. It has seen an increase of 444 farmers compared with the BDGP.
The counties with the lowest number of applications are based in the eastern half of the country, with Co Louth only having 163 applications and Co Dublin having 54 farmers applying to the scheme.
Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) livestock chair Brendan Golden said the farmers who applied for the scheme account for almost 500,000 suckler cows.
He said the number of cows is an increase from the previous scheme and underlines farmers’ commitment to the sector.
Golden said the scheme must be easy to implement on farm, with compliance costs kept to a minimum to ensure the supports provided remain with suckler farmers.