The final terms and conditions of the new Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme (SCEP) contain a few big changes to the original proposals under the scheme.

The scheme opened on Monday 20 March, and farmers can join using their login details at

The closing date for applications is Monday 22 May 2023.

Payment rate changes

In a big change, the new payment rate for this scheme is €150/cow for the first 22 cows and €120/cow thereafter. The higher payment rate was originally supposed to be only paid on the first 10 cows.

The payment rate is calculated on a per-hectare basis, with the reference number being divided by 1.5 to get the maximum payable area (MPA).

A farmer with 25 cows will have a MPA of 16.66ha, with the first 15ha being paid at €225/ha and the remaining hectares paid out at €180/ha.

This would mean this farmer’s total payment would be €3,674 or €147/cow.

The reference number of cows will be calculated on the average number of cows calved in the three highest years from 2016-2021.

Quality assurance

Participants must be a member of Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme (SBLAS) by 16 October 2023 and have continued participation for the duration of the programme.

It was originally proposed that all participants in SCEP would have to be a member of the Bord Bia quality assurance scheme by the time of application.

Based on the huge number of applications expected to the Bord Bia scheme, the Department of Agriculture changed the date by which quality assurance must be obtained to 16 October 2023.

One of the most important aspects of this is that Bord Bia quality assurance must be maintained throughout the five-year programme. Failure to do this would result in a full clawback of monies.


The genotyping requirement has increased to 70% of the annual reference number.

Genotyping costs will be deducted from the farmer’s payment.

Applicants are required to ensure that by 31 October 2027, at least 75% of their yearly reference number are eligible females that are genotyped with four or five stars on the replacement index (on a within-breed or an across-breed basis)

Another change to BDGP is that at least 50% of the yearly reference number calved on the holding must be eligible calves for the scheme year from 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023, and every scheme year thereafter.

In the case where the yearly reference number is 10, at least five eligible calves must be born in that scheme year. Failure to do this will result in removal from the scheme and a full clawback of monies received.

Reference number

Another change is in each scheme year, applicants must calve at least 50% of the yearly reference number.

In scheme years one and two, 80% of these calves must have been sired from a four- or five-star source, ie, a genotyped four- or five-star bull on either the terminal or replacement index (on a within- or across-breed basis) at time of service.

If using AI, the AI straw used on participating holdings must be from a four- or five-star eligible bull on either the terminal or replacement index (on a within-breed or an across-breed basis).

While the terms and conditions state that this is a requirement for year one (1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023), a derogation has been granted on the star status of sires of calves in year one. Farm organisations had sought this change as cows were bred before the programme was announced.

Training course

Applicants must also attend two courses, a SCEP training course and an animal handling course, by 15 November 2024. Failure to attend the training courses by 15 November 2024 will result in removal from the programme and any monies paid under each year of the programme will be recouped. Participants will receive no payment for attending the training course

For more details and reaction to the scheme and details on how to comply, pick up a copy of this week’s Irish Farmers Journal.