The payment rate for the new Beef Carbon Reduction Scheme in NI will be announced in the autumn, a DAERA spokesperson has confirmed.

“DAERA is currently finalising the design of the Beef Carbon Reduction Scheme and aims to publish further scheme details including the payment rate, in the autumn, once necessary approvals are in place,” the spokesperson said.

The new headage payment will incentivise farmers to reduce the slaughter age of beef cattle to help cut greenhouse gas emissions.

To be eligible, prime cattle must be under 30 months at slaughter in the first year of the scheme in 2024, with payments for this made in early 2025.

The slaughter age criteria will then reduce to 28 months for cattle killed in 2025, 27 months for 2026 and 26 months for 2027.

Store trade

Given that cattle which will be eligible for the scheme at slaughter from next year onwards are being traded as stores at present, the expectation of the headage payment is already influencing prices.

Reports suggest there is more demand in local marts for cattle that are achieving target weights for their age and are therefore more likely to meet the criteria for the scheme.

However, farmers buying cattle should exercise some caution given that DAERA has not confirmed the payment rate. In addition, this is not new money, with the scheme funded by taking a top slice off all payments.