Details of new €40/head suckler scheme begin to emerge

The Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, is expected to announce the availability of funding for a new €20 million beef support package – the Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot – as part of Budget 2019.

Under the pilot programme, AgriLand understands, farmers will receive a payment of up to €40/cow for collecting weight data on cows and calves.

Also Read: Budget 2019: €20 million ‘Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot’ on the way

Further details of the proposed measure are now starting to emerge.

Although no details of the length of the pilot have yet been made public, AgriLand understands (as outlined in the initial draft) that the Department of Agriculture will invest in mobile weighing scales – that will be positioned in co-ops throughout the country – to make it possible for farmers to collect the necessary data.

It is envisaged that farmers will ‘borrow’ these scales from certain co-ops and perform the weight recording – as laid out under the pilot programme – on their own farms.

Once completed, the information will then be submitted by the farmer to the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF), where it will be used to strengthen proofs under both the Terminal and Replacement indices.

However, suckler farmers participating in the scheme will be subject to on-farm inspections to ensure that the data submitted lines up with the animals on the ground and to protect the integrity of the programme.

Conceived by officials from the Department of Agriculture and lead figures of the ICBF, the move is seen as a route to not only boost incomes for the sector; but also as a way of rewarding efficiency within the national suckler herd.