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

Date published: 11 April 2024

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 15th April 2024 via the DAERA website.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, 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.


Notes to editors: 

  1. A series of BCR scheme information meetings have been organised by the CAFRE Knowledge Advisory Service to make farmers aware of the details of the scheme, the eligibility criteria, how to apply and highlight management practices that will enable farmers to achieve scheme targets. For more information and to register to attend these events please visit the CAFRE website.
  2. Payments are capped at a maximum of 352,000 animals in NI per scheme year.
  3. Applicants to the BCR Scheme will receive confirmation from DAERA that their opt in is complete via their Government Gateway or NI Direct Account.
  4. Download more information on the BCR Scheme.
  5. The Advisory Service can be contacted Monday to Friday from 9.00 am to 5.00pm on 0300 200 7848, for help and guidance on how to opt-in. Farmers can also email: areabasedschemes@daera-ni.gov.uk.
  6. An agent or trusted person can be nominated by farmers to complete the application on their behalf. Forms to nominate an authorised person can be downloaded from the DAERA website. For nominated persons that have Single Application permissions, Beef Carbon Reduction permissions will also be given.
  7. Farmers can also opt-in to receive emails and SMS text messages to keep up to date with scheme news and reminders on key dates. To do so, farmers should update their preferences on the ‘Personal Details’ page of their DAERA Online Services account, ensuring their email and mobile are up to date. DAERA online services can be accessed here.
  8. Follow DAERA on X formerly called Twitter and Facebook.
  9. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office: pressoffice.group@daera-ni.gov.uk or telephone: 028 9016 3460.
  10. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours’ service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110

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