Budget 2021: €45 million ‘Covid beef scheme’ and CAP scheme extensions earmarked

The government will allocate €45 million for a “Covid beef scheme improving carbon efficiency in 2021”, according to a document outlining the expenditure allocation for Budget 2021 – while the extension of schemes under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) have also been allocated funding.

This beef scheme will come in conjunction with new agri-environmental and other farm support measures, for which an allocation of €79 million in costs has been earmarked for next year.

According to the documents prepared by the Departments of Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, a total additional Covid-19 allocation of €63 million will be set aside for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine under Budget 2021.

The Department of Agriculture will receive a total gross voted expenditure allocation of €1.826 billion for 2021.

Meanwhile, under expenditure allocations relating to farm and sector supports and controls, some €937.5 million has been set aside.

According to the document, examples of activities in this area include:
  • A 33% increase in funding for the organic farming scheme, to allow it to be re-opened for new entrants;
  • The extension of schemes such as Green, Low Carbon, Agri Environment Scheme (GLAS), Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC), Beef Data Genomics Programme (BDGP), the Sheep Welfare Scheme and other beef measures that support farm incomes and continued environmental action for those exiting schemes under the current RDP (for example, approximately 36,000 farmers will exit GLAS at the end of 2020, 95,000 farmers receive ANC payments);
  • The introduction of new environmental measures to support environmental actions by farmers not currently in agri-environment schemes;
  • Funding of the Forestry Programme through new afforestation establishment grants, forestry premia and forestry development supports.

Under a breakdown of programme expenditure, as well as farm/sector supports and controls, funding has been set aside for: “Food safety, animal and plant health and animal welfare” (€322.1 million); “policy and strategy” (€399.2 million); and the “seafood sector” (€167.3 million).

The department document explains the reasoning behind the funding provision, stating:

This provision will protect farm incomes against the background of the twin pressures of Covid-19 and Brexit, including through the extension of a range of critical support schemes through the CAP transition period.

“It will also provide for significant new measures to encourage additional environmental ambition, and permit the development of new initiatives in farm safety,” the document says.