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Introducing SCEP: the new suckler scheme for 2023

Introducing SCEP: the new suckler scheme for 2023

Applications for the new Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme (SCEP) – the replacement for the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) are expected to open to farmers in March of this year.

The scheme, which has a total budget of €256m across five years, will include four mandatory measures namely: replacement strategy; genomics; weighing; and surveys.

Like the previous BDGP scheme, payment rates will be based on a historical reference number of animals. However, unlike its predecessor, farmers will have scope to reduce numbers without penalty each year and this option will be available each spring, which will be useful for farmers who may lose short-term leased land for example and temporarily have to reduce numbers for one or multiple years of the programme.

When open, applicants will be presented with their suckler calving data from 2016 to 2021 inclusive. For this timeframe, the best three years from which an average will be determined will be the scheme reference figure. In the case of young farmers or those with no data for the years 2016 to 2020, they will be regarded as ‘new entrants’ and will provide a target for 2023 at the application stage.

Payment rates

In terms of monies available, payments of €225/ha for the first 15 eligible hectares and €180/ha for the remaining eligible hectares are expected. However, the total hectares claimable will depend on the farmer's reference number divided by 1.5. For example, an applicant with a reference number of 20 will have a maximum payable area (MPA) of 13.33ha (MPA = reference / 1.5). To be eligible for payment, he/she must declare a minimum of 13.33ha under his/her BISS application.

As the maximum payment area for this applicant is below 15ha, he/she will be eligible for a payment of ~€3,000 or €225/ha provided all of the scheme requirements are met. For an applicant with a larger reference number, take 60 for example, his/her maximum payable area will be 40ha (60/1.5). Once again, provided all the scheme requirements are met, the expected payment will be €7,875 which compromises of payments of €225/ha for the first eligible 15ha and €180/ha on the remaining 25ha.

Eligibility requirements

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has also published the eligibility requirements applicants must meet, these include:

  • Bord Bia SBLAS membership is required as the carbon footprint in the sustainability audit will be used to measure changes over the course of the contract. This must be in place prior to application;
  • Submit a BISS applications on which all their lands are declared for the duration of the Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme;
  • Calve down at least 50% of the reference number of animals every year;
  • Every participant will be required to attend a half day livestock handling course before the end of year two;
  • There will be mandatory training on the implementation of the actions under the scheme in the first two years of the contract.

Mandatory actions

As mentioned, SCEP has four mandatory actions which focus on replacement strategies, weight recording, genotyping and data recording (surveys, traits).

The replacement strategy element covers both dams and sires on the successful applicant’s holding. In terms of sire requirements, 80% of the calves born in year one and two of the scheme must be sired by a four/five star sire. This target increases to 85% in year three and four, before climbing to 90% in year five. Meanwhile, the dam requirements are as follows: 50% of the reference figure dams retained on the holding must be four or five star in year one and two. Again, like the sires, progression is required with this target climbing to 65% in year three and four and further increasing to 75% in year five.

In addition to the replacement strategy, to be eligible for payment, successful applicants must weigh 70% of the reference number of animals on the holding annually, with the weights submitted before November 1 each year. Furthermore, at least 70% of the reference number of animals on the holding must be genotyped annually over the duration of the programme, without repetition. While participants are also expected to provide a range of data through animal events, records and surveys.