A new trans-European beef network, called BovINE, aimed at addressing the sector’s sustainability challenges, was launched by Teagasc in conjunction with EU research and farming partners at the Teagasc Food Research Centre Ashtown, Dublin, today, (Tuesday, January 21st).
BovINE will link researchers, advisors, farmers and other relevant stakeholders across 9 EU member states to stimulate the exchange of knowledge and ideas at an international level under the headings of: socio-economic resilience, animal health & welfare, production efficiency & meat quality and environmental sustainability.
Teagasc successfully tendered and were awarded funding of €2 million by the European Union to develop this project, which will be shared with 17 other EU partners.
The BovINE project will engage with beef farmers from 9 member states, covering 75% of the suckler cow population in Europe and 70% of beef output.
Focused on responding to farmer-identified needs, the BovINE network will, according to Teagasc, provide beef farmers with access to information about innovations that could improve sustainability of their farms and the wider industry.
Different sources of knowledge
Dr. Áine Macken-Walsh, senior researcher in Teagasc, said: “At the heart of this project is the belief that there are different sources of knowledge that can be used by farmers to solve their problems.”
“There is the traditional ‘expert knowledge’ from scientists and researchers, but there is also the very valuable ‘practitioner knowledge’ that other farmers have developed as a result of grappling with similar problems.”
“This project will bring both types of knowledge together to respond to farmers’ needs.”
Professor Maeve Henchion, Head of Department of Agri-food Business and Spatial Analysis of Teagasc, and BovINE coordinator explained: “BovINE takes a bottom-up approach to identifying farmers’ needs.”
“Each year, we will ask farmers to identify their most urgent needs and we will respond to these needs in two ways.”
“Firstly, drawing on the international network of our 17 partners, which includes farmer associations, breeder associations, agricultural advisory organisations, and applied research institutions, we will look to identify and share examples of solutions used by other farmers across the EU-wide network.”
“Secondly, drawing on the same network, we will identify solutions from research results that have not yet been put into widespread practice.”
“Any proposed solutions that have not yet been applied in practice will be subject to scrutiny in a demonstration farm context before being promoted for widespread adoption.”
Learn, improve and share experiences
Kevin Kinsella, director of livestock with the Irish Farmers’ Association said: “With continuing pressure on beef farm incomes in Ireland and across Europe, this initiative is very welcome.”
“Irish farmers have always been prepared to adopt new technology and change. This project will provide a structure that will enable us to learn more and improve and share our experiences with other European beef farmers.”
“We are committed to working with Teagasc and many European farm organisations and research colleagues through BovINE, to help Irish and European beef farmers.” Kinsella concluded.