The number of applications to the Dairy Beef Calf Measure has increased by 15% increase in the space of just a year.
The scheme opened for applications in mid-March and closed without late penalty on April 25. There was a total of 9,404 applications received, compared to 8,185 in 2021.
With a budget of €5m this year, and following the pilot last year, the objective of the measure is to increase the economic and environmental efficiency of beef from the dairy herd and to facilitate further the integration of the dairy and beef sectors.
The core action is the weighing of eligible calves for which there is a payment of €20 per calf up to a maximum of 40 calves, increased from 20 in the pilot measure last year.
Des Morrison, chairman of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers' Association livestock committee told thethat there should be "no linear cut" to applicants and that more money should be found to accommodate all if needs be.
He added that the €20 per calf "isn't sufficient in the present circumstances", and that agriculture minister Charlie McConalogue must "put proper funding into the scheme because dairy beef production produces what the market requires".
The ICMSA has said that there is a need for greater integration of the dairy and beef sectors, with Mr Morrison noting that 60% of beef originates from the dairy herd.
Meanwhile, there was a total of 27,197 applications received for this year's Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme - Sucklers (BEEP-S) compared to 27,058 in 2021.
BEEP-S has a funding provision of €40m in 2022 and targets the weaning efficiency of suckler cows and calves by measuring the live weight of the calf at weaning as a percentage of the cow's live weight.
Under BEEP-S, participants may be eligible for up to €90 for the first 10 suckler cow/calf pairs per herd and up to €80 per pair thereafter subject to an overall maximum of 100 pairs per herd.
Jimmy Cosgrave, suckler chairman of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association told thethat BEEP is a model of "what we should aim for in all schemes – simple, straightforward, and relevant to farm performance while also delivering on animal welfare and emissions reductions".
“It is particularly beneficial because farmers are not tied into long-term contracts which is a real downside of the Beef Data and Genomics Programme," Mr Cosgrave said.
“ICSA is very concerned that the plan to amalgamate BDGP and BEEP into one scheme in the CAP Strategic Plan is going to be disastrous for many farmers who will opt out altogether, from 2023 onwards.”
Mr Cosgrave said that the ICSA is meeting agriculture minister Charlie McConalogue this week to argue for a new scheme to be exchequer-funded.
“We will be arguing that lessons must be learned from the BEEP scheme in terms of simple, practical measures that appeal to suckler farmers and that do not tie farmers into long-term contracts which are not ideal given the age profile of suckler farmers and given the huge uncertainty around suckler farm viability, especially in light of huge cost escalation,” he added.