BEEP: Scales, submissions and supports

Details of the €20 million Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP) relating to weighing scales and the application process were revealed this week at the launch of the programme.

Farmer participants in the scheme will have the option to use their own scales to keep track of weights under the programme – as long as scales are registered in advance with the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF), according to Maria Dunne, head of the meat policy division at the Department of Agriculture.

The scheme opens for applications on Monday (February 4) and will remain open until Friday, February 22.

Regarding the expected uptake and overall application process, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed said: “We expect that there will be some correlation between the levels of participation currently in BDGP with the applicants here – but it’s not confined to BDGP applicants so it’s open to all suckler farmers.

We have designed the scheme and a lot of effort and consultation has gone in, including with farm organisations, to make it as user-friendly as possible.

“The application form is just an expression of interest; there is a tendering process underway – we will have a wide network of availability of scales.

“The purpose and design of the scheme, and obviously the outcome sought is on the data collection but also on making the scheme as user-friendly as possible and making sure that the overwhelming majority of the funding for the scheme goes into farmers’ pockets.”

The minister said he does not believe there will be any bureaucratic issues with the programme, reiterating that it is designed to keep it as simple as possible.

During the launch, Dunne provided further details on the scheme: “It is a one-year pilot and is funded completely by the Exchequer.

“It is for 2019 only so all applicants must complete their actions and draw down the money before 2019. Participation is voluntary,” she added.

The aim is to support farmers making the best decision possible from both an economic and an environmental efficiency point of view.

The head of meat policy stressed that the overall aim of the scheme is to improve the overall economic and environmental efficiency of the sector.

“The basic requirements are submitting an application indicating that you intend to complete the required actions within the specified timeframe.

The next requirement is to weigh the unweaned calf and dam, record the weights and submit them to ICBF in the prescribed manner. Only beef breed animals born between July 1, 2018 and June 1, 2019 are eligible.

“There is no historic reference year in BEEP. What there is, is an eligibility,” Dunne stressed.