Maintaining a stocking rate of between 0.1LU/ha and 1.2LU/ha is now set to qualify as two eco scheme options after changes were made to the draft CAP strategic plan.

A stocking rate of between 1.2LU/ha and 1.4LU/ha will qualify as one option in the scheme, with another option needed to claim payment under the new scheme, which will be in place from 2023 onwards.

This 1.4LU/ha cut-off represents a drop in the maximum permissible stocking rate allowed under this option, which had previously stood at 1.5LU/ha in earlier drafts of the plan.

Other eco scheme changes

Those wishing to opt for the multi-species sward measure will have to establish the swards over 7% of their eligible farm area, up from the 6% previously put forward by the Department of Agriculture.

Under the GPS-controlled fertiliser spreader or sprayer option, all sprays and fertiliser will have to be applied using the GPS technology, not just the 60% cited in the draft plan published this year.

The updated CAP plan has also clarified that land can be transferred out of the Organic Farming Scheme or the Agri Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES) into forestry without penalty.

Dairy beef scheme

The Department has said that the Dairy Beef Welfare Programme has been “redesigned” under the updated plan.

A €20/calf payment will issue to eligible farmers taking part in the scheme, which will seek to improve the genetic merit of high dairy beef index (DBI) sires in dairy herds to “support retention of calves on the island”.