Beef headage scheme opt in opens

The process to opt in for the new Beef Carbon Reduction Scheme (BCRS) has opened on the DAERA website.

Farmers who want to receive headage payments under BCRS are only required to opt in once. This means payments will be issued for subsequent years as long eligibility criteria are met.

DAERA has also said no penalties apply if a farm business opts in and it does not slaughter any eligible animals during a scheme year. Payments under the BCRS were phased in gradually from January 2024, with the final payment rate of £75/head applying from April onwards. All NI-born prime cattle slaughtered under 30 months of age are eligible for the BCRS in 2024.

The age criteria will drop each year to reach 26 months in year four (2027).

Agriculture last for DAERA funding

A breakdown of the money that DAERA has given to groups and organisations over the past five years shows projects related to agriculture received just 16% of the budget.

In response to a written question from Sinn Fein MLA Declan McAleer, DAERA Minister Andrew Muir said his department has given £302m to 6,169 groups since the 2019/2020 financial year. Analysis of the figures shows that 44% of the funding, which equates to £132m, went to groups related to rural affairs.

Just under 40% of the money, worth £120m, was for work related to the environment and just £49m, or 16%, went to agriculture.

DAERA involved in 88 court cases

DAERA is currently involved in 88 different court cases, Agriculture Minister Andrew Muir has said. In his answer to a written question from North Down MLA Alex Easton, Minister Muir said DAERA has had 269 court cases over the last four calendar years.

“The total costs incurred to date for finalised and ongoing cases is £2.6m,” he said.

Red Tractor has high standards

Initial results from a study undertaken by NI-based consultant Jonathan Birnie, has shown the standards applied in the Red Tractor beef and lamb scheme are higher and more comprehensive than similar programmes in Australia or New Zealand.

The work, commissioned by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), found that Red Tractor has higher standards in all areas except biosecurity and disease control.

Beattie to be elected YFCU president

Richard Beattie is set to be elected as the new president of the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster (YFCU) at the organisation’s AGM in Omagh on Saturday.

The Finvoy YFC member is running unopposed and will take over from outgoing president Stuart Mills, who has held the position for the past year.

Kristina Fleming from Ballywalter YFC is the only candidate running for deputy president and is set to be elected to the position.

Voting will take place among YFCU members for the election of new vice presidents, as five names have been put forward for four positions.

The candidates are Joyce Allen from Moneymore, Laura Patterson from Holestone, Matthew Livingstone from Collone, Natalie Burrows from Cappagh and Rachel Smith from Moycraig.

EFS payments of over £9m made

Agriculture Minister Andrew Muir has announced payments totalling £9.4m have commenced to Environment Farming Scheme (EFS) participants.

Payments were issued for 93% of claims on Monday, with the remaining claims to be processed and paid as soon as possible, confirmed the DAERA minister.