While the majority of the over 20,000 farmers participating in the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP I) are on target to satisfy the female replacement target, it is important that farmers stay on track over the next month.

Farmers selling cull cows or heifers need to be careful that doing so does not change their eligibility status, while farmers who are not currently satisfying the target may need to make changes.

The female replacement target for 2021 was rolled over from the much-discussed target in 2020, ie herds must satisfy a requirement of having at least 50% of the applicant’s reference number of animals genotyped as eligible heifers/suckler cows.

Eligibility status

To be deemed eligible, animals must be genotyped females that are:

  • Rated as four or five stars on the replacement index (on a within-breed or a cross-breed basis) at the time of purchase (for heifers brought into the herd) or at the time of genotyping (for those replacements bred within the herd). Where a non-genotyped replacement heifer is purchased, this animal must be subsequently genotyped and confirmed four or five stars on the replacement index (on a within- or an across-breed basis) before being deemed eligible for the programme.
  • Be at least 16 months old.
  • Be born in 2013 or later for animals introduced into the herd after 5 June 2015. The 2013 age rule is not applicable to cows purchased prior to 5 June 2015.
  • Participants in BDGP II are in a midway position and should be looking forward to satisfying the targets in October 2022.

    Participants can follow their eligibility status at www.icbf.ie. This can be accessed by clicking on the ‘Reports’ tab on the menu at the top, selecting BDGP from the dropdown options and then clicking on ‘Eligibility 2021’. Follow the instruction and select ‘Click Here’.

    This will detail information on the female replacement target, the stock bull target and the AI requirement. The female tab will list all females in your herd aged over 16 months on 31 October and confirm if they qualify or not.

    Preparation for payment

    With payments under BDGP targeted for the first week of December, the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) is advising participants to complete any outstanding record keeping, including completion of the 2020 carbon navigator and recording of scheme data.

    Any outstanding genotype samples should also be returned immediately. Information can be easily recorded online through a herd’s login.

    There are also some questions arising about whether or not BDGP will be rolled over again to 2022.

    The European Commission granted approval in 2020 for schemes to roll over to both 2021 and 2022 under transitional arrangements agreed, pending the introduction of the new CAP in 2023.

    The rollover will be dependent on national exchequer funding being allocated to the scheme for 2022.

    The feedback coming from the Department suggests it is optimistic that the scheme will be rolled over again to 2022. If this is the case, current participants will have to opt in again.

    No further details have been announced as yet for the 2021 scheme, but it is expected it will have similar requirements to those already in place, with the female requirement increased upwards from 50%.

    Current participants will have to opt in for future participation. This could influence a farmer’s decision to sell four- and five-star animals from 1 November onwards.

    Potential penalties

    The terms and conditions of BDGP state that where a herd has a compliance rate of between 90% and 100%, there will be a proportionate reduction based on the percentage figure that a herd falls short.

    Where the compliance rate is under 90%, there will be no payment for that action, plus there will be a clawback for the other four years.

    On top of this, a penalty of twice the yearly payment will be applied, meaning the overall penalty will be the loss of the full payment for the final year, plus a penalty of 40% of a herd’s annual payment.