I launched the beef environmental efficiency pilot scheme on 30 January. The launch was covered in the agriculture media. Applications for participation in the pilot scheme will be accepted from Monday, 4 February to 22 February.
The terms and conditions and information on the process and application procedure are available on my Department's website. The procurement process for the field service provider is ongoing. The necessary infrastructure will be in place prior to the opening of the timeframe for the submission of weights on 8 March.
The beef environmental efficiency pilot, BEEP, scheme is a targeted support for suckler cow farmers and specifically aimed at further improving the economic and environmental efficiency of beef production. This is done by measuring the weaning efficiency of suckler cows. Building on the success of the beef data and genomics programme, the data collected will also be a valuable addition to Ireland's already impressive cattle breeding database.
The beef environmental efficiency pilot scheme was announced in budget 2019 as part of the €78 million package for the agrifood industry. As well as clear environmental and climate benefits, the scheme will provide for farm gate investment at a time of market volatility and uncertainty related to Brexit. I am conscious that 2018 was a very difficult year for beef farmers in terms of weather conditions, fodder issues and market volatility. This is the sector most exposed to Brexit, given its reliance on the UK market. The initiative has been designed to provide an injection of investment at a critical time for farmers in navigating the challenges ahead, while delivering in real terms on our climate objectives.
The funding of €20 million available will allow for payment up to a maximum of €40 per calf, based on costs incurred and income forgone. If the scheme is oversubscribed, a linear cut may be applied. It is a pilot scheme for 2019 only, Exchequer funded and operated under state aid de minimis provisions. The pilot scheme has been designed to be as straightforward as possible and ensure the majority of the payment can be retained by the farmer. Application will be open to all beef suckler herdowners. The terms and conditions and information on the process and application procedure are available on my Department's website or the beef schemes section of my Department.