The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has announced that payments totalling £208,655 will be issued to all eligible applicants under the NI Protein Crops Scheme on Monday, October 18 – the first day of payments for 2021.

The overall budget available for the scheme in 2021 was £330,000.

Launched earlier this year, the pilot measure will run for two years, with the aim of encouraging the production of combinable beans, peas and sweet lupins in Northern Ireland.

Aim of Protein Crops Scheme

The crops will be grown for the purpose of creating a domestically produced source of protein for animal feed, while providing agronomic benefits within arable rotations.

This is expected to create environmental benefits by reducing the need to import animal feed and the associated carbon footprint.

The scheme represents an important investment in promoting sustainable, diversified agriculture in Northern Ireland.

Under the scheme farmers will receive £330/ha in addition to their Basic Payment.

Hectares in scheme

According to Don Morrow, head of dairy, pigs, poultry and crops at the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) ,a total of almost 680ha have been accepted for the protein scheme this year.

The eligible crop breakdown for 2021 is as follows:

  • Spring beans - 593.17ha;
  • Spring peas - 47.233ha;
  • Winter beans - 23.17ha;
  • Spring sweet lupins - 15.7ha.

He confirmed that 10 of the 80 farms submitting successful applications had received an inspection.

“No anomalies were found. All the crops inspected were growing well, with only minor adjustments made where submitted acreages are concerned," Morrow said.

The protein scheme has an annual support budget of £330,000, covering up to 1,000ha.

Significantly, Morrow confirmed that the underspend of 2021 will not be added to the budget available next year. Looking ahead, he said:

“The scheme will continue into 2022 with an available budget of £330,000. If more than 1,000ha are determined as eligible, then a linear scale back will be applied.

“Payment will be made on the scaled back area. Forage crops, including alfalfa and lucerne, are not eligible aid under the protein scheme," he explained.