The new calf rearing scheme, which is worth €5m in 2021, has opened for applications, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has confirmed.

The scheme offers €20 per eligible dairy calf weighed, up to a maximum of 20 calves. In the event of over subscription, a linear cut will be applied.

The calf must be sired by a beef breed and born to a dairy dam, be at least 12 weeks old and has to have been registered on the holding for a minimum of 10 days.

Eligible calves are those born after 1 January 2021.

Better integration

Minister McConalogue said he acknowledged the strong potential for better integration of dairy and beef systems, to provide a new income stream for beef farmers and noted that when added to the recently announced BEEP-S.

"This €45 million package as a whole will support livestock farmers to improve the economic and environmental performance of their herds, while providing valuable income support for the sector.

“I am committed to the long-term support of sustainable beef farming in this country as it plays a huge role in the economy of rural Ireland. I stand ready to continue to support our suckler and beef sectors in the time ahead.”

The scheme will be funded by the Irish exchequer, and details of the scheme have been notified to the European Commission in accordance with the COVID-19 Temporary State Aid Framework.

Applications for the measure can be lodged through with the closing date on Monday 26 April.

Popular scheme

The ICMSA said Tuesday’s announcement was a welcome start by the Department with early indication of their willingness to develop the programme in future years.

“It’s a relatively short turnaround to the closing date of 26 April 2021 so farmers should consider their options and make their application before the closing date,” ICMSA president Pat McCormack said.

“We think that this scheme will be popular and possibly over-subscribed so the Minister must ensure that sufficient funding is made available to keep the payment of €20 per head.”