Exclusive: €40 suckler payment to be delivered by next summer
A new €40 suckler cow payment has been announced for as part of Budget 2019.

A new €40 suckler cow payment will open from early summer 2019, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has confirmed. The Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP) scheme was announced on Tuesday as part of the Budget 2019. This and an additional €23m for ANCs are part of the €44m direct aid to farmers towards Brexit resilience.

The BEEP scheme will focus on improving the efficiency of the beef herd by paying farmers to weigh suckler cows and calves when the calves are between 150 and 250 days.

The overall package is €20m, enough to cover 500,000 cows. It is not specific to those in the Beef Data and Genomics Programme. However, Minister Creed said that if it is oversubscribed, selection criteria will apply.

“The objective is to get the most genomically efficient beef herd: the smallest suckler cow that will produce the biggest weanling, have adequate milk supply for that weanling, that will have the lowest carbon footprint, that will be highly fertile and calve every year,” the minister said.

“One area we don’t have sufficient data [on] is weaning efficiency – the relationship between the weight of the weanling at weaning time in relation to the weight of the cow,” Minister Creed said.

This is part of improving the overall sustainability of the agricultural industry, he said.

The IFA welcomed the move as recognition of the income crisis in the sector, but said the level of funding is disappointing. Livestock chair Angus Woods said that Minister Creed must insist all of the €40 per cow goes directly to the farmers.

A Fianna Fáil motion calling for the suckler sector to be made a priority passed through the Dáil earlier this year.

“Under sustained pressure from Fianna Fáil, the minister has been forced into a U-turn and an initial €20m enhanced fund has been provided for,” Fianna Fáil spokesperson on agriculture and food Charlie McConalogue said.

“The campaign towards a €200 suckler cow payment drives on now at full steam and the minister must not put any further roadblocks in its path,” he said.

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Beef Environmental and Efficiency Pilot scheme – what you need to know

The farmer's daily wrap: protest outside TB forum and BPS opens
Here is your news round-up of the top five farming stories today, Wednesday 20 February 2019.

Weather

It will be cloudy and misty on Wednesday night, with a little drizzle and light rain in places. Some fog along hills and coasts. Temperatures will range from 8°C to 11°C, with south to southeast winds mostly moderate or fresh in strength. However, winds will be strong at times along coasts.

Thursday is set to be a mostly dry and blustery day, but a little drizzle or mist may occur along south and west coasts. A good deal of cloud overall but a few bright spells will break through at times. South to southeast winds will be mostly moderate to fresh in strength, but it will be gusty in parts of the south and west, before becoming increasingly windy by evening time in the southwest and west. Mild, with highs of 11°C to 14°C.

High Seas will lead to the risk of some coastal flooding.

In the news

  • Applications to the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) for 2019 opened on Wednesday.
  • The Beef Plan Movement held a protest outside a TB stakeholder forum meeting that was held at the Department of Agriculture’s Backweston Campus.
  • Meanwhile, inside the meeting farm bodies opposed the tighter TB controls which the Department put on the table.
  • Despite opposition from residents, the Supreme Court has upheld An Bord Pleanala's decision to grant planning permission for the North-South Interconnector.
  • And, shares in Glanbia surged on the back of strong 2018 results.
    Weekly podcast: roadmap for the beef sector and turning weeds into cash
    In this week's podcast, we report from the National Farmer's Union conference in the UK and the Agri Careers Expo in the RDS.

     

    Click here to download this week's podcast.

    With less than 900 hours to go until Brexit, Hannah Quinn Mulligan spoke to farmers in England at the National Farmers Union annual conference in Birmingham

    Addressing the NFU conference on Tuesday, UK secretary for the Environment Michael Gove said that there will be no zero-rate tariffs on agricultural goods post-Brexit and no hardening of the border in Ireland.

    Irish farmers are increasingly concerned about the future of the Irish beef industry. News correspondent Barry Cassidy spoke to IFA Sligo chair JP Cowley who has been farming suckler cows for over 40 years.

    Responding to these concerns, the chair of the Oireachtas Agriculture committee Pat Deering told us that the group is currently working on a roadmap for the beef sector.

    This week Bord Bia announced changes to the feedback farmers will receive from their Quality Assurance audits, news correspondent Thomas Hubert asked the Director of Origin Green Michael Moloney for more information.

    Thomas Hubert also met Derek Milton of Miltcon Services and Bernard Carey of the Biomass to Biochar project to discuss the conversion of rushes and bracken into valuable carbon products.

    And finally, Tyrone farmer Kenny Little is taking part in the Belfast, Edinburgh and Dublin marathons this year to raise money for three different charities. Tracey Donaghey caught up with Kenny to find out how he is feeling ahead of the challenge and why he has decided to do the marathons wearing a boiler suit and yellow wellies.

    Missed the previous episodes of the podcast? Catch up here!

    Supreme Court upholds North-South pylon plan despite opposition from residents
    Despite opposition from residents, the Supreme Court has upheld An Bord Pleanala's decision to grant planning permission for the North-South Interconnector.

    Affected residents in Monaghan, Cavan and Meath say they will continue to oppose the North-South Interconnector, despite the Supreme Court upholding planning approval for the southern section of the project.

    Planning for the project was initially granted by An Bord Pleanala in December 2016. Since then it has been the subject to judicial review proceedings.

    These were dismissed by the High Court in August 2017 but the judgement was appealed, which culminated in the case being brought to the Supreme Court.

    Liam Ryan, director of grid development and interconnection at EirGrid, said it was pleased the project had cleared “all of the planning and legal hurdles in Ireland”.

    He added EirGrid is hopeful the same could be achieved in Northern Ireland in the coming months.

    Opposition

    Residents who are opposed to the interconnector say the Supreme Court rulings change nothing.

    In a statement the North East Pylon Pressure (NEPP) group said: “The ruling today is very much related to the An Bord Pleanála approval in 2016. It does not address or have any impact on the ongoing issues facing Eirgrid and ESB.

    “The two key issues in relation to the challenges ahead – those related to access to landowners’ properties and the impact of Brexit on the future status of the project – were not considered by the court.”

    NEPP contends that the original planning application did not request permission for access routes.

    “No agreement for access exists at landowner level. Any attempts by ESB and EirGrid to request the local authorities to vary any of the conditions imposed will be challenged by landowners, one by one, at the appropriate time.

    “Now is the time to stand firm. Eirgrid and ESB will try to divide and conquer by making a big deal out of today’s ruling,” NEPP said.

    Read more

    EirGrid hopes study will 'clarify issues' on undergrounding interconnector

    High Court rules against landowners in North-South Interconnector case