‘Majority of the BEEP payment will go to the farmers’

The majority of the payment under the Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP) scheme will go to farmers, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, has confirmed.

News of the new €20 million scheme emerged during the announcement of Budget 2019 earlier this week.

Also Read: ‘Early summer’ target and 500,000 head limit for new €40/head beef scheme

Specifically aimed at further improving the carbon efficiency of beef production, the pilot scheme is expected to target the weaning efficiency of suckler cows and calves – measuring the live weight of the calf at weaning as a percentage of the cow’s live weight, the minister explained.

“The data will be used to target improvements on a herd basis by giving the farmer detailed feedback on the performance of individual animals.

The data collected will also be a valuable addition to Ireland’s impressive database on cattle genomics. Details of the scheme will be announced in due course.

The minister previously stated that the scheme will be open to all suckler farmers, but he noted that in the instance where farmers seek funding for more than 500,000 weanlings, “some kind of selection criteria would have to be applied”.

Farmers will receive a payment of €40 for ensuring that weight data is collected from a cow and her calf.

Minister Creed rejected claims from Fianna Fail’s agriculture spokesperson, Charlie McConalogue, that the BEEP scheme represented a coupled payment.

“It is consistent with every utterance I have made in the context of the suckler sector; it is not a coupled payment. A coupled payment would run contrary to everything the industry has been striving to achieve over recent years, which is improving the quality of the herd.

“That is the direction of this initiative and it is compatible with the objectives of the Beef Data Genomics Programme (BDGP), where currently minimal data is being collected on the weanling efficiency.

I fundamentally believe that a coupled payment would be the wrong direction in which to travel. That is the reason there will not be a coupled element to this scheme.

The minister acknowledged that not every farmer will have access to a weighing scales and that issue will have to be resolved through consultation with various stakeholders.

“I am satisfied we can get to a situation where the majority of the payment will be to the farmers.

“There will be some costs insofar as they will have to access weighing scales, but I believe we can do that in a very cost-efficient manner,” he concluded.