November 29, 2023
Claire Kerrane calls for urgent review and overhaul of SCEP for Suckler Farmers

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Claire Kerrane TD, has called for an urgent review and overhaul of the Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme (SCEP), following significant concerns raised around the scheme and low uptake from Farmers.

SCEP was introduced earlier this year and replaces the Beef Data Genomics Programme (BDGP) and Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme (BEEP-S) as a key payment for Suckler Farmers. However, despite all Suckler Farmers being eligible to apply for SCEP, there are just 17,627 participants in the scheme as of this month.

Concerns have been raised that, currently, SCEP is too complex and restrictive for many Suckler Farmers, and that the scheme was rolled out without engagement with Suckler Farmers, who are the experts when it comes to breeding.

Teachta Kerrane said:

“It is clear that SCEP in its current form is unworkable – it is too rigid and complicated, which we are seeing reflected in low participation in the scheme.

“SCEP must be reviewed and revamped if it is to deliver much needed support to Suckler Farmers, as it should. Given this is the flagship scheme for Suckler Farmers and has replaced the BDGP, it is crucial it is accessible, which it currently is not.

“Concerns have been raised with me by many Farmers about the scheme, and I know many are deterred by how complex it is, which has only been heightened in recent weeks with the announced changes to the beef index.

“In a recent response to a Parliamentary Question I posed to the Minister he confirmed that, of 20,837 applications to the scheme, 858 herdowners withdrew from the scheme and 2,352 were deemed ineligible.

“It is hard to believe that supposedly ‘all’ Suckler Farmers are supposed to be eligible for SCEP, when we are seeing only a small portion of Suckler Farmers interested or able to take part in the scheme.

“It has also been flagged that the Minister and his Department did not adequately consult with Suckler Farmers or representative organisations, and as a result we have a scheme which isn’t working only a short time after it has been rolled out.

“In addition, questions need to be asked about sectoral representation on the ICBF board. There absolutely should be adequate Suckler Farmer and mart representation on the Board, and this is something I have queried with the Minister.

“In their fair criticism of this Scheme, Farmers have been clear – they will follow the data and the science. However, that data and science must also be underpinned by engagement with Suckler Farmers to create a Scheme that works and that they can buy into. Otherwise, what good is the data?

“SCEP needs to be paused, reviewed and overhauled to ensure it can deliver for Suckler Farmers. I am calling for the Minister to do so and to engage with the sector to make sure SCEP can be a success.”

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