DAERA Announces Further Extension of The Protein Crop Scheme

The Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has announced that the Northern Ireland pilot Protein Crop Scheme will be extended to the end of 2026.

The pilot scheme was introduced in 2021, initially for two years and then extended for a further year, with the intention that the approach would then be reviewed and possibly refined for subsequent years to maximise the economic and environmental benefits.

Since the commencement of the pilot scheme, the area of protein crops grown has increased to 784 ha across 126 farms, with spring beans being the most popular crop.

An evaluation of the initial pilot has been completed which has identified further potentially significant environmental benefits and opportunities which need further investigation. These include potential reductions in crop nutrient applications, the provision of a food source for pollinator species and benefits to soil condition and health.

The extended pilot scheme will run for the 2024 – 2026 scheme years, with the aim of assessing the environmental and sustainability benefits which protein crops can deliver. The maximum supported area will increase from 1,000ha to 1,300ha to allow for continued evolution of the market and supply chains.

Under the scheme, farmers will receive £330 per hectare in addition to their Basic Payment / Farm Sustainability Payment.

Farmers wishing to apply for the Protein Crop Scheme next year should do so via the annual Single Application in 2024.