In January of this year, I launched the Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP), with a funding provision of €20 m in 2019. BEEP targets the weaning efficiency of suckler cows and calves - measuring the live weight of the calf pre-weaning as a percentage of the cow's live weight. BEEP had been announced in Budget 2019 as part of the €78 m Brexit package for the agri-food industry. As well as clear environmental and climate benefits, BEEP will provide additional farm income at a time of market volatility and uncertainty relating to Brexit.
Some 18,883 farmers from all across the country had registered their interest in participating in the Pilot by the closing date of February 22 and they will qualify for payment provided they comply with the requirements to weigh each cow and calf and provide the requisite data to ICBF in accordance with the Terms and Conditions. The €20 million funding available will allow for payment of up to a maximum of €40 per calf.
ICBF has been registering privately owned scales and accepting weight records from participating beef farmers since the 8th of March. Over 2,000 individuals have registered privately owned scales to date and over 40,000 weights have already been recorded. Last week, I welcomed the start of the roll-out of rental scales to over 70 ICOS-affiliated livestock marts and co-ops across the country. This will see some 400 sets of scales being made available to rent from these locations allowing those farmers that do not have access to privately owned scales to record eligible cow and calf weights to meet their requirements under the Pilot.
The roll-out of rental scales is in conjunction with the earlier release of smartphone applications for both Android and Apple devices to facilitate the quick and accurate submission of weight records.
Weights may be submitted online, by smartphone application or on a paper form available from ICBF.