The timeline for the new farm support measures in Northern Ireland has been welcomed by the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) .

These farm supports include the Ruminant Genetics Programme; the Livestock Dietary Emissions Challenge Fund; Farming for Carbon Benchmarking; and the Beef Sustainability Package – Beef Carbon Reduction Scheme.

The measures have been designed by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) to support farming and enhance environmental sustainability during the period ahead.

The new Ruminant Genetics Programme launched last month will help drive improvements in productivity and environmental performance in the ruminant livestock sectors.

The programme will be delivered by DAERA in partnership with the agri-food industry.

The industry has also established a new company – Sustainable Ruminant Genetics Ltd. (SRG) – to assist DAERA in delivering several key functions including the promotion and marketing of this programme.

Ian Stevenson, LMC chief executive, said: “While final budgets for all the new measures have yet to be confirmed, it is encouraging to note DAERA’s intentions to push ahead with the support schemes that will allow the ruminant sectors look to the future with a strong degree of confidence.”

Stevenson said that a number of the new measures, now endorsed by DAERA, have their origins in work originally carried out jointly by the main stakeholder groups operating within Northern Ireland’s ruminant livestock sectors.

He added: “This work was crystallised in the report, published by the Andersons Centre in 2021.

“The clear aim of that study was to identify the policy framework and associated measures that will deliver a sustainable, competitive suckler beef and sheep sector in Northern Ireland.”

The LMC chief executive believes that improved genetics will play a key role within the beef and sheep sectors and in particular will deliver a sustainable future for Northern Ireland’s ruminant livestock industry.

He added: “The launch of the new Ruminant Genetics Programme is worthy of note.

“It is envisaged that genetic improvement will contribute significantly to achieving the target reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

“The first phase of the new programme will provide farmers with the data and evidence to make better informed breeding decisions to advance genetic gain in dairy and beef animals.”

Ian Stevenson said that work carried out by Teagasc in Ireland has confirmed the wide variation in methane emission levels generated by different ruminant animals.

“In addition, there is a strong possibility that it will be possible to select for both improved animal performance and reduced greenhouse gas emissions at the same time.

“In other words, both traits may well be complimentary to each other. If this is the case, it represents a win:win scenario for farmers,” he said.