The new scheme for suckler farmers in the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will be called the Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme.

The programme will run from 2023-2027, providing support to beef farmers to help improve the environmental sustainability of the national beef herd.

It comprises four mandatory actions, which must be undertaken each year by participants.

The four actions are as follows:

Action 1: A replacement strategy

  • The replacement strategy will cover both the dams and the sires. In years one and two, 80% of the calves born on the holding must be sired by a 4-star or 5-star sire on the maternal or terminal index.
  • In years three and four, this will increase to 85% while in year five, it will increase to 90%.
  • On the dam side, in year one, at least 50% must be at least 4-star on the replacement index on October 31, 2023.
  • This increases to at least 65% by October 31, 2025 (year three), and at least 75% by October 31, 2027 (year five).

Action 2: A genotyping programme

  • All calves born on the holding annually must be genotyped and this must equate to at least 70% of the reference animals on the holding.

Action 3: A weighing measure

  • The suckler cow and calf pair are weighed prior to the calf being weaned and not before the calf is at least 100 days old.
  • This measure targets the weaning efficiency of suckler cows and calves by measuring the live weight of the calf at weaning as a percentage of the cow’s live weight.
  • According to the document, this is increasingly recognised as ‘a key indicator’ of suckler-beef performance given the single unit of output (the calf) typically associated with the efficiency of the system.
  • The cow and calf weights must be submitted by November 1, in each year of the contract.

Action 4: Data recording

  • Participants must provide a range of data through animal events, records and surveys including:
    • Calves – ease of calving, quality and docility, size, vigour/vitality, scour and pneumonia;
    • Cows – milking ability and docility, culling reasons;
    • Stock bulls – docility and functionality, culling reasons.

A mandatory training course for participants in the Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme must be undertaken in each of the first two years of the scheme.

In order to be eligible for the scheme, an applicant must:

  • Have submitted a Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS) application in a reference year and continue to submit BISS applications on which all their lands are declared for the duration of the Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme;
  • Have beef-bred animals born annually in the herd in each scheme year of the measure;
  • Be a member of the Bord Bia Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme.

How much money will be allocated per cow?

The number of suckler cows eligible per herd will be based on a specified historical reference period, which will provide a ceiling for payment, but there will be scope to reduce numbers without penalty.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, reserves the right to rank and select cases for entry into the scheme in the event of over-subscription and/or reduce the rate payable per cow.

It is proposed that a higher rate of payment of €150/cow will issue for the first 10 suckler cows in a herd with a payment of €120/cow applying thereafter up to the budget limit.

The annual indicative financial allocation for this intervention is €51.2 million, amounting to a total indicative financial allocation of €256 million for the period 2023-2027.

An additional amount of €4 million is also provided for training over the period.

The total amount payable to the trainer per attendee at the training courses in year one and two is €100 annually or €200 in total.

A suckler scheme will be in place for 2022, which will run for one year until the new CAP comes into play.

Only the suckler farmers who were eligible for the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) this year, will be eligible for the one-year scheme which will be in place next year.