The Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP) scheme – which was launched earlier this week - is “a targeted support for suckler farmers” and is specifically aimed at further improving the economic and environmental efficiency of beef production, according to Michael Creed - Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine.
BEEP – with a funding provision of €20 million - will target the weaning efficiency of suckler cows and calves - measuring the live weight of the calf at weaning as a percentage of the cow's live weight, as reported by us here.
“Just a drop in the ocean”
John Halley – ICSA suckler chair said that the money is “just a drop in the ocean” compared to the challenges facing the sector, and on its own, it won’t be enough as he reiterated his call for a further payment for the suckler sector.
“There is also scope for additional payments to assist the sector which are compatible with EU objectives. The reality is that an extra €40 is not enough to make a real difference for suckler farmers.”
“For that reason, ICSA has proposed a payment of €80 per calved heifer in the suckler herd provided that they calve before 30 months. This would serve to incentivise greater efficiency both in terms of economics and in terms of climate change.” He added.
“It can easily be sold to the EU as a climate change measure because it reduces the amount of dry heifers walking around a farm that are unproductive.”
Targeted direct payments
Meanwhile, IFA National Livestock Chairman - Angus Woods has strongly encouraged suckler farmers to apply for the new scheme and draw down the €40/cow payment.
He said IFA fought a hard campaign in the last Budget and secured additional funding of €20m for sucklers and it is very important that farmers apply for the scheme.
He said the €40 payment for sucklers is not enough and the IFA is determined to continue the campaign to get targeted payments up to €200/ cow for sucklers.
Angus Woods said the organisation is campaigning “hard” to increase the level of targeted direct payments for sucklers. He said as a very low-income vulnerable sector, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed and the Department will have to deliver a substantial increase in direct supports to sucklers, both from national resources and CAP funding.