An online system allowing farmers in Northern Ireland to opt-in to the Beef Carbon Reduction (BCR) Scheme will open next Monday (April 15).

The BCR scheme, which was introduced by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) at the start of the year, is a new payment support scheme for beef farmers.

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.

Beef Carbon Reduction Scheme

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 April 1, 2024 to December 31, 2027 the scheme will provide the farmer with funding of £75 for each eligible animal slaughtered.

Andrew Muir
Andrew Muir. Image source: DAERA

Northern Ireland’s Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Andrew Muir announced the launch of the opt-in system.

“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,” he said.

“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,” the minister added.


Eligible farm businesses must opt-in to the scheme to receive payment and can do so from April 15, 2024 via the DAERA website.

A farmers only needs to opt-in once for BCR from 2024. If the farmer 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.

The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) is currently hosting a series of information meetings for farmers on the BCR scheme.