Up to 3,500 farmers who applied for the Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme (SCEP) could be at risk of being dumped out of the scheme, with no payments issuing for any of the five years of the scheme.

The issues centre around the requirement for all SCEP applicants to be Bord Bia quality-assured by 16 October. If these farmers are kicked out, it could see the number of suckler farmers participating in SCEP drop below 17,000 farmers.

This would see over €13m of the annual scheme funds going unspent.

Figures obtained by the Irish Farmers Journal show that 3,500 SCEP applicants have yet to engage with Bord Bia on their application to join the Bord Bia Sustainable Beef and Lamb quality assurance scheme.

The terms and conditions of the SCEP state that successful applicants must be a fully approved member of the Bord Bia QA scheme by 16 October 2023. Bord Bia had indicated earlier this year to farmers to allow a two-month lead-in time from the time of QA application to the time of approval.

With just five weeks left to 16 October, time is running out for these farmers to remain in SCEP. Bord Bia has processed over 8,000 new QA applications since the launch of SCEP.

Meanwhile, ICBF has finally awarded the €25m DNA testing/genotyping tender to Weatherbys Laboratories.

The tender process took longer than expected and has left some farmers who sent off samples two months ago awaiting results to determine their eligibility for the 31 October SCEP deadline.

A spokesperson for ICBF said that the backlog of samples should be cleared in the next two to three weeks.