There will not be a limit on the number of suckler cows a farmer can keep in the new €260m Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme under the next CAP, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has confirmed.

“There will not be a limit on the number of cows farmers can keep within that scheme.

“I will set a reference in terms of how many will be paid for, but there will not be a limit on farmers increasing their numbers. This is a matter on which I have engaged with farmers throughout the country.

“My objective is to fully support the suckler farmer to ensure it remains an anchor of our beef sector, to support family farms, and the scheme I put in place will do that,” he said in response to Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy.

Payment rates

Under the scheme, a payment rate of up to €150/cow will apply on the first 10 cows in the herd. For the remaining cows, for which the reference has yet to be set, farmers will receive €120/head.

It is expected that in the region of 400,000 cows will be included in the scheme.

This new Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme will replace the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP).

As was the case with BDGP, farmers who want to take part in the new scheme will have to commit to the scheme and its actions for the five-year contract.

As reported in last week’s Irish Farmers Journal, the Minister has said the new scheme will build on the progress of BDGP in terms of reducing the carbon footprint of suckler beef and that there will be similar measures to those in BDGP.

This could include genotyping animals, selecting replacements on the replacement index and the recording of production data.