Written answers

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Budget 2021

Matt Carthy (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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654. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the budget measures introduced as part of budget 2021 to support suckler farmers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44529/20]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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The budget measures announced under Budget 2021 to support suckler farmers build directly on the schemes established in recent years. The core support for the beef sector under the current RDP is the €300m Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP). In addition to this support, over the last two years, over €200 million of additional supports were made available specifically to the beef sector, including the BEAM, since 2019, the Beef Finishers Payment this year and the Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme (BEEP/S) schemes. It is important to note that supports targeted at beef finishers also support suckler farmers through the weanling selling season.

The objective of the Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP), which was piloted in 2019, was to further increase economic and environmental efficiency in the suckler herd through better quality data on herd performance supporting decision making on farm. The 2019 budget allocated a total of €20 million for BEEP. A total of 16,556 farmers participated in the pilot with payments totalling €15.4m. Building on the success of the BEEP pilot of 2019, its successor BEEP-S of 2020 included optional animal health and welfare measures and provided payments of over €40 million to over 24,000 beef farmers.

In Budget 2021, €85 million has been allocated for specific supports for sustainable beef farming. This includes over €40 million for the extension of the BDGP during the transition period before the next CAP. This scheme is a significant support for participating farmers, as well as having delivered measurable improvements in the economic and environmental performance of the suckler herd as a whole. An optional extension will be offered to all those who have met the requirements of the scheme, and who commit to maintaining those requirements.

The remaining €45 million has been allocated for the Beef Sector Efficiency Pilot. This scheme will build on the success of the BEEP-S scheme this year, aiming to improve the weaning efficiency of suckler cows and calves by recording weights, and also optional animal health and welfare measures. This provides for a maximum payment per suckler cow/calf pair of €90 per head for the first 10 suckler cows, and €80 thereafter. The 2021 scheme will also contain €5 million for a new calf weighing measure to support beef farmers rearing dairy beef calves.

Separately, and for the first time, I secured €6m in order to promote and market Irish suckler beef abroad. This is an exciting initiative that I hope will further support the sector.

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