The publication of the consultation document for Ireland’s Common Agricultural Policy Strategic Plan (CSP) revealed how, at this moment in time, the government envisages rolling out the 2023-2027 CAP, pending the consultation that is now underway.

Some details of how the CSP would shape up were already reported by Agriland a number of months ago, including measures for suckler cow efficiency.

Now that the consultation document has arrived, what are the latest details on these measures?

CSP on sucklers

The CSP outlines a new ‘Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme’, which is designed to build on the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) and the Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme (BEEP) to improve sustainability of the suckler herd, through improving “genetic merit”.

The programme will consist of two measures – ‘A’ and ‘B’ – operating on a five-year contract basis. The two measures will run in parallel, and a farmer can only participate in one or the other.

Measure A will be for farmers who were in BDGP on June 1, 2021, while measure B will be for farmers who were not in BDGP on that date or at all.

Both measures will consist of four mandatory actions to be completed in each year of the contract, which are: ensuring a replacement strategy is in place; genotyping; weighing; and data recording.

There will also be two optional complimentary actions, to be completed in each contract year.

The complementary actions relate to forage quality and faecal egg testing.

Every participant will also be required to attend a half-day livestock handling course before the end of year two.

In order to be eligible, a participant must: have submitted a BISS application in a reference year and continue to submit BISS applications on all declared land for the duration of the new suckler programme; have beef breed animals born annually in the herd in each scheme year; and be a member of the Bord Bia Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme (SBLAS).

The programme is set to include a reference year which will be confirmed nearer the time it opens.

The reference year will be the basis for the number of eligible suckler cows per herd on which payment can be made, though there will be no penalty on reducing numbers. A reduced number of suckler cow numbers will become the new reference number.

The scheme will prevent a participant increasing their suckler cow numbers over the course of the contract. However, in exceptional cases there will be some flexibility on this provision.

Applications may need to be ranked for selection in the event of over-subscription. The level of funding to be allocated to the programme is yet to be decided.