Further flexibility has been announced for farmers participating in the Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme (SCEP). Some farmers had been impacted by the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) evaluation changes which came into effect on 28 November 2023. These farmers had been advised that animals whose index had fallen could maintain their original index and would not be impacted unless the SCEP participant sold an animal to a non-SCEP herd. Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, has announced that further flexibility in the scheme would ensure that participant farmers are not disadvantaged.
This means that female offspring of genotyped females in SCEP herds that do not become eligible for SCEP on their own genomic evaluation, may become eligible if their sire and dam meet a minimum requirement on the September 2023 ICBF evaluation. Therefore, female offspring of a dam that is 3, 4 or 5-star and a sire that is 4 or 5-star on the Replacement Index, will be considered “SCEP eligible” even if, when they are genotyped and are not evaluated as 4 or 5-star in their own right.
This flexibility will exist for all years of the programme and females will retain this “SCEP eligible” status where they are traded to another SCEP herd. However, they will lose this “SCEP eligible” status if they are traded to a non SCEP herd.
The Minister commented on these changes, “I have listened to feedback from stakeholders in recent months and I believe the flexibility I am announcing today provides assurance to SCEP participants that they will not be negatively impacted by the evaluation index changes which were implemented in November 2023”.
Participants can amend their 2024 yearly reference number through their Agfood account so farmers who want to amend their commitments under the programme requirements to meet their individual needs or changing circumstances. The window to amend 2024 yearly reference numbers closed on the 19th of February 2024.
Any changes made to the 2024 reference number (either increases or decreases) will have an associated impact on the requirements/actions to be carried out by the participants and on the maximum payment that the participant will be eligible to draw down later in 2024. Once an application to amend the 2024 yearly reference number is submitted online, no amendments can be made.