Minister McConalogue photographed with Raymond Palmer, a suckler farmer from Castlefinn, County Donegal.

New €20m beef scheme for suckler farmers

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue, has announced that a new support scheme for the suckler sector will open on schedule in early August. The focus of the 2024 Beef Welfare Scheme (BWS) will be on practical measures to enhance animal health and husbandry on suckler farms. It will have a budget of €20 million.

Minister McConalogue said: “Supporting suckler farmers is one of my priorities as Minister and to this end, I secured an additional €20m in budget 2024 and ringfenced it in my Departments budget for this beef scheme. I can confirm that the scheme will open in early August, as it did last year. Together with Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme (SCEP), this will once again deliver on my commitment to deliver €200 per cow to suckler farmers.

“I am glad to confirm that as with previous national schemes, eligible calves are those born to eligible suckler cows in the period from 1 July 2023 to 30 June 2024. This scheme will consist of two measures aimed at improving on-farm efficiency: namely a mandatory meal feeding action and an optional vaccination action. Farmers can select the second action where they wish to improve overall herd health on their holdings.”

The 2024 BWS will support farmers in meal feeding suckler calves before and after weaning, and in vaccinating against clostridial diseases and calf pneumonia. While the meal feeding action is mandatory for scheme participants, farmers must indicate that they are selecting the optional vaccination action at application stage if they wish to be considered for payment under this action. Farmers can then decide during the implementation phase, where appropriate in consultation with their veterinary surgeon, which disease they wish to target depending on the health status of their herds.

“This scheme is worth €20 million in additional income to suckler farmers. When coupled with the SCEP, participants in the BWS will be eligible for €200 per cow/calf pair for the first 22 pairs,” said the minister.