The Department of Agriculture has recognised that the €5m budget allocated to the Dairy Beef Welfare Scheme for weighing calves will be hard to spend, due to an anticipated low level of uptake by farmers.

“In 2022, there was a dairy-beef scheme there where the farmer who is rearing the calves, whether it’s me as a dairy farmer or the fella next door who is a beef farmer,” the Department’s head of direct payments and beef scheme David Buckley said. “There was a budget there of €5m and we only spent €3.5m. That is only 175,000 calves at €20/head so even when there is a small bit of support, we still couldn’t get farmers to sign up to it. We will still be hard pressed this year to spend €5m.”

Buckley told farmers at Tuesday’s Irish Farmers Journal CAP meeting in Mullingar that the payment cap for up to 40 calves on the scheme will be extended in the replacement for the weighing scheme that will be opened in 2024.

This new scheme will pay dairy farmers for calves bred from dairy beef index (DBI) bulls with three or more stars.