New Suckler Scheme – Expected Opening Date, Payment Rates And Tasks

The new suckler scheme which is set to replace the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) and the Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme – Suckler (BEEP-S) will be called the Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme (SCEP).

The Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) Livestock Committee chairperson Brendan Golden has told Agriland that he expects the new scheme to be open for applications in March.

A statement from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) issued to Agriland this morning (Wednesday, January 18) said the Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme will open for applications in late March 2023.

Golden also said that he understands it is planned that the scheme application process will close in line with the Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS) applications. BISS is the replacement for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).

Payment Rates

On the first 10 suckler cows that a farmer has in the suckler scheme, it is proposed that a higher rate of payment of €150/cow will be available.

A payment of €120/cow is proposed for every cow after the first 10, up to the budget limit.

Agriland understands that an average figure from across three years of suckler calving data will be used to determine a farmer’s reference figure for the new suckler scheme. An allowance is expected to be made for young farmers.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine (DAFM), payments of €225/ha will be made for the first 15 eligible hectares and €180/ha for the remaining eligible hectare (reference number of animals divided by 1.5 livestock units (LU)/ha).

Suckler Scheme Requirements

The proposed structure of the new programme will consist of four mandatory actions, all of which will have to be undertaken by the participant in each year of the contract.

The four actions proposed for the programme are:

  • A replacement strategy target;
  • A genotyping programme;
  • A weighing requirement;
  • A data recording requirement.

Suckler farmers who were in the BDGP and BEEP Sucklers (BEEP-S) programmes will already be familiar with these actions.

Teagasc advisor Matt O’Sullivan recently explained what the proposed actions would look like.

On the Teagasc website, the Killarney-based advisor outlined what each of the scheme requirements would involve for the farmer.

Replacement Strategy

The replacement strategy will cover both the dams and the sires. In years one and two of the scheme, 80% of the calves born on the holding must be sired by a four- or five-star sire. In years three and four, this will increase to 85%, and in year five, it will increase to 90%.

On the dam side, in year one, at least 50% must be at least four-stars on the replacement index on October 31, 2023.

This increases to at least 65% by October 31, 2025, and at least 75% by October 31, 2027.

Farmers in BDGP previously had to hit a target of 50% of four- and five-star females on the farm.

These targets show a significant increase in the star ratings and may require a change in breeding policy on some farms if these targets are to be met, according to the Killarney-based Teagasc advisor.

Genotyping Requirement

All calves born on the holding annually must be genotyped and this must equate to at least 70% of the reference animals on the holding.

Weighing Requirement

The suckler cow and calf pair will have to be weighed prior to the calf being weaned but not before the calf is at least 100 days old.

This measure targets the weaning efficiency of suckler cows. The cow and calf weights will then have to be submitted to the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) in each year of the contract.

Data Recording Requirement

Participants will be required to provide data through animal event records and surveys.

The data required for calves will include ease of calving, quality and docility.

For cows, data on their milk levels and docility will be required and for stockbulls, docility and functionality data will be required. Culling reasons will also have to be recorded.

Training Course

The Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme (SCEP) will also require participants to complete a mandatory training course in each of the first two years of the scheme (2023 and2024).

Other Points To Note

It is proposed that participants will have to be a member of Bord Bia’s Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme (SBLAS).

The suckler scheme proposals have not yet been finalised but the above information is how the scheme is likely to look.

Some changes may occur to the scheme prior to its expected rollout in March.

(Source – Agriland – Breifne O Brien – 18/01/2023)

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