Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme (SCEP) eligibility issues, arising from the new Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) indices, have been addressed by Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

On Tuesday, the Department of Agriculture announced that bulls genotyped as four- or five-star on the September 2023 evaluation which are no longer four- or five-star following the index changes on 28 November 2023 will be considered SCEP-eligible in the context of action one (eligible bull) in SCEP.

In addition, females genotyped four- or five-star on the September 2023 evaluation and which subsequently fell on the 28 November 2023 evaluation will be considered SCEP-eligible under action two, female replacement strategy.

IFA president Francie Gorman said that SCEP “now provides this for suckler farmers and pedigree breeders in a pragmatic way”.

Teagasc and the ICBF

Gorman said with the SCEP concerns for suckler farmers and pedigree breeders now addressed, Teagasc and the ICBF must get on with the agreed work programme from the last beef stakeholder group meeting.

The inclusion of a minimum weight for cows in the index has been agreed, along with a review of the carbon piece.

Teagasc has commenced work on assessing the key factors and costings on weanling-producing farms, with the objective of developing a weanling index that reflects this production system.

Submissions will be taken on the upper weights issue and specifically on pedigree females to assess concerns and proposals in these areas, the IFA said.

The IFA is seeking an index that fully reflects weanling production, the phasing out of the stars and continuing with a thorough examination of all components of the current indices in terms of inclusion, weighting and data sets used in a comprehensive manner to ensure both the ICBF and the indices "have the trust and confidence of suckler farmers and pedigree breeders when this process concludes".