‘Finer details’ of €20 million beef pilot scheme yet to be finalised

The “finer details” of the new €20 million Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP) scheme have yet to be finalised, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has confirmed.

Speaking at a press conference this evening in Government buildings in Dublin, the minister outlined that the pilot scheme will be targeted at suckler farmers and aimed at further improving the economic and carbon efficiency of Irish beef production.

The scheme is part of a Brexit Resilience Package for the agri-food sector for 2019, which has a budget amounting to a total of €78 million.

Addressing journalists this evening, the minister acknowledged that the livestock sector – and particularly the beef sector – is “financially challenged”.

Numerous calls have been made in recent months for the minister to introduce a €200 per suckler cow payment. But this is a measure which Minister Creed has steadfastly opposed.

He said: “I always said that I found the idea, given our climate change obligations, of a coupled payment difficult to square in the context of the targets that we have to meet by 2030.

“But I acknowledged that there was a challenge there for the sector that needed to be met.

“What we have here is effectively a bolt-on to the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) – which is an endeavour being run out of my department under the Rural Development Programme (RDP) to the cost of €300 million over the lifetime of the RDP, where we are improving the genetic merit of the beef herd and, thereby, driving down the carbon footprint per kilo of output.

What this efficiency pilot does is build on that data that will be available through an annual requirement to weigh both weanlings and suckler cows and report that data to the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF).

“We need to work out the finer details of it, but I think it is an appropriate step. It delivers for the beef sector and it is also compatible with our climate change obligations, in terms of working within the space of acknowledging that we need to drive down further the carbon footprint of the beef sector,” he concluded.