Causeway Chronicle

Opt-in to Beef Carbon Reduction Scheme to open on April 15

Agriculture Minister Andrew Muir has said the opening of opt-in to the Beef Carbon Reduction (BCR) Scheme is a significant milestone in supporting our farming sector in its move towards greater environmental sustainability.

The Minister made the comments as he announced the opening of the online system where farmers can opt their farm business in to the new BCR Scheme.

The BCR Scheme, which was introduced by the Department at the start of the year, is a new payment support scheme for beef farmers in Northern Ireland. It encourages farm businesses to reduce the slaughter age of clean finished beef cattle to improve the efficiency of the local beef sector and reduce livestock greenhouse gas emissions.

The Scheme 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. From 1 April 2024 the scheme will provide the farmer with funding of £75 for each eligible animal slaughtered. 

Announcing the opening of the opt-in system, Minister Muir said: “I am delighted to announce the opening of the online opt-in for the Beef Carbon Reduction Scheme. This is the opening of a major scheme under the new Farm Support and Development Programme and marks a significant milestone as we work towards supporting our farming sector to improve productivity whilst enhancing environmental sustainability in Northern Ireland.

“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 which plays such a significant role in our local economy, society and ensuring our food security.

“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 15 April 2024 via the DAERA website at https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/how-do-i-opt-bcr. 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.

Full details of the scheme, including business and animal eligibility rules, are available to view on the DAERA webpage https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/am-i-eligible-bcr. There is a video providing step-by-step instructions on how to opt-in. If farmers require further help or guidance with an application, they should call DAERA’s Advisory Service helpline on 0300 200 7848 or email areabasedschemes@daera-ni.gov.uk.

Farmers are encouraged to ensure the email address held for them is up to date and to check their emails regularly for communications from DAERA Area-based Schemes.

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Maurice Bradley