Beef Carbon Reduction scheme opens today for NI farmers

Eligible farm businesses must opt-in to the scheme to receive payment
Eligible farm businesses must opt-in to the scheme to receive payment

The Beef Carbon Reduction (BCR) scheme, a new payment support system for beef farmers in Northern Ireland, has opened today for applications.

The scheme encourages farms to reduce the slaughter age of clean finished beef cattle to improve the efficiency of the beef sector and reduce livestock emissions.

It is being implemented initially over a four-year period and will incentivise a progressive reduction in the age at slaughter each year.

Payments of £20, £40 and £60 will be made for eligible animals slaughtered in January, February and March of this year respectively.

The scheme will provide the farmer with funding of £75 for each eligible animal slaughtered.

Agriculture Minister Andrew Muir said its opening was a significant milestone in supporting the industry toward greater environmental sustainability.

He said: “My department is committed to supporting more environmentally sustainable farming practices that benefit our climate and environment, whilst providing clear incentives to drive better resource efficiency within our agricultural sector.

“This innovative approach signals a shift in how we deliver support to decarbonise and protect our environment, thereby contributing to meeting the targets set by the Climate Change Act (NI) 2022.

"I would encourage farmers to engage with the department on how best to adapt their on-farm practices to meet the targets set for the Scheme and contribute to a more environmentally sustainable and productive sector.”

Eligible farm businesses must opt-in to the scheme to receive payment and can do so from today (15 April) via the DAERA website.

The business only needs to opt-in once for BCR from 2024. If the business has opted-in they will receive a BCR payment each year thereafter provided they meet the eligibility conditions in that year.

Businesses must be eligible to claim Basic Payment Scheme in 2024, or its replacement, from 2025 onwards to avail of the BCR scheme.

If farm businesses opt-in and do not have any eligible animals in that scheme year, no penalties will apply.