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HomeBeefSCEP: €3,000/year payment for 20-cow suckler farmer
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnanehttps://www.thatsfarming.com/
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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SCEP: €3,000/year payment for 20-cow suckler farmer

“There is flexibility with the SCEP (Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme), that was not there in the past with the BDGP (Beef Data and Genomics Programme) as there will be scope to reduce numbers without a penalty each year through an option online each spring,”

That is according to Teagasc Ballinrobe-based Alan Nolan, business and technology advisor – drystock, who discussed the BDGP’s successor scheme as part of the fourth episode of Teagasc Mayo’s spring webinar series on Wednesday, February 22nd, 2023.

The environmental scheme will issue payment on a per ha basis, similar to the previous suckler scheme, the BDGP in the past.

The payment rate is €225/ha for the first 15 eligible hectares and €180 thereafter, per remaining eligible hectares.

To compare the SCEP rates with the BDGP, the payment rate was €142.50/hectare for the first 6.66 eligible hectares and €120 per remaining eligible hectare.

Scheme reference figure

An applicant’s scheme reference figure will determine their payment going forward, and there will be scope to reduce numbers without a penalty each year (option available each spring online), according to the DAFM.

The farmer will receive historical calving data from the years 2016-2021 at the application time, similar to the Sheep Improvement Scheme, from which there will be an average of three of the herd’s ‘best’ years, which will become the applicant’s scheme reference number.

“You will get no payment above that reference number; that is the ceiling, the highest payment you will get paid on.”

“In the case of new applicants with no calving data for the years 2016 to 2020/2021, they will be regarded as new entrants and will declare a target for 2023 at the application stage.”

“They will be treated differently, and a lot of that will become clearer when the terms and conditions are available.”

20-cow farmer

Nolan then provided an example of a farmer with an average of 20 suckler cows (scheme reference ceiling for the scheme’s duration of five years) over their 3 ‘best years’ from 2016-2021.

To calculate the reference number, you divide 20 cows by 1.5LU/ha to get your maximum payable area (MPA), which, in this case, is 13.33ha.

“This means that you have to declare 13.33ha every year on your BISS application to get paid on these 20 cows; that is the minimum there,” Nolan outlined.

“In my experience in the past, that was there in the BDGP too, because stocking rates are not too high in the west, it generally was not a problem.”

“However, it usually may only raise its head if there is rented or leased land and someone loses land at some stage over the next five years.”

He provided an example where in this new scheme, in year 2, a farmer can opt for setting an annual reference.

So, if, for some reason, a farmer lost land or reduced cow numbers for some reason, the farmer, in this case, can, in year two and set an annual reference figure of 16.

“That is a reduction of 20%, as I think the DAFM is just allowing a reduction of 20% per year,” he added.

All the scheme targets payments, including MPA for the year, are calculated from this figure of 16 cows.”

“The payment figure is re-calculated again, and the payment is based on this figure of 16. If you got land back again or cow numbers went back up again in year three, you can opt to go back up to 20 again.”


Nolan provided payment calculation examples:

Farmer A (example above):

  • Annual reference = 20÷1.5 = 13.33ha
  • Must declare 13.33ha on BISS annually
  • Payment rate of €225/ha x 13.33ha = Payment of €3,000
  • €3,000÷20 cows = payment of €150 per suckler cow (BDGP: €95/1st 10 cows) (BEEP-S not referred to in this presentation – BEEP-S replacement branded National Beef Welfare Scheme 2023).

Farmer B:

  • Annual reference = 35 cows ÷1.5/LU/ha = 23.33ha;
  • Must declare 23.33 ha on BISS annually
  • Payment rate of €225/ha x 15ha – €3,375
  • Payment rate of €180 x 8.33ha = €1,500
  • €1,500 + €3,375 = total payment of €4,875
  • BDGP: €150/suckler cow on first 22.5 cows (BDGP €95/10 cows) and payment of €120/suckler cow on remaining cows (BDGP €80 up to reference). (BEEP-S not referred to in this presentation).


The €256m five-year scheme will run from 2023-2027 and is expected to open for applications from all suckler farmers via AgFood.ie from mid-March to May 15th, 2023.

Previous article on entry requirements

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