UFU respond to consultation on protein crop payments

Wednesday, 20 January, 2021

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has submitted its response to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) consultation on protein crop payments. In December 2020, Minister Poots outlined his intention to establish a protein crop scheme for growing combinable beans, peas and sweet lupins in 2021. The scheme will be rolled out on a pilot basis before the approach is refined in the coming years to maximise the economic and environmental benefits.

Commenting on the consultation, UFU deputy president William Irvine said, “The UFU have been strong advocates lobbying for a protein payment scheme in recent years. With our nearest competitors in the Republic of Ireland benefiting from a similar initiative, we support the proposed pilot scheme encouraging the establishment of protein crops, striving longer term to reduce the livestock sectors dependence on imported protein.

“Locally produced proteins will deliver many environmental benefits such as supporting the already flourishing wildlife habitats on farm alongside helping to reduce the carbon footprint throughout the supply chain.”

The UFU says a limiting factor of the pilot scheme is the window of one year. Many crop rotations are already made and with further seed complexities due to Brexit, the UFU request that the pilot scheme is rolled out over two years, including 2022. For the pilot scheme to be successful the UFU ask that DAERA liaise with the Northern Ireland Grain Trade Association to seek their support and encourage the use of homegrown protein in feed rations.

“Producing protein is an integral part of the wider supply chain and for this initiative to be successful, it will require greater coordinated efforts by AFBI and CAFRE with those producing the protein and the livestock end user. Training and shared learning opportunities need to be made accessible for both the grower and end user. CAFRE Business Development Groups could be a viable tool to assist with this delivery,” said Mr Irvine.