Suckler farmers received a big boost this week with a higher than expected Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme (SCEP) payment, and the delivery of a €28m Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme (BEEP-S) within weeks.

The two schemes combined will amount to at least €200/suckler cow.

In a surprise move, the SCEP payment rate of €150/cow has been hiked from 10 cows to 22 cows in the herd.

“I am very passionate about the suckler sector and I see this as being one of the most important programmes in underpinning suckler farm incomes,” Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue told the Irish Farmers Journal on Wednesday.

“We took a look at the budget and pushed it as far as we could,” he said.

The minister is targeting 20,000 farmers for the scheme.

He also revealed that details of the new BEEP-S scheme, expected to be worth at least €65/cow, will be announced within the next four weeks.

“I promised €200 per suckler cow in supports as part of my election manifesto and I’m going to deliver that,” he said.

The Bord Bia quality assurance requirement has frustrated some farmers but the minister said “you have to take challenging decisions that provide leadership to a sector”.

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