In the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture, so-called ‘blue box’ support measures were exempted from reduction commitments, provided they were delivered under ‘production-limiting’ programs. Although classified as ‘blue box’, the EU system of direct payments (DP) to beef farmers imposes ‘claim-limiting’ restrictions rather than ‘production-limiting’ restrictions, allowing farmers to keep additional animals over and above the number upon which they are eligible to claim DP. The present paper provides empirical evidence that EU direct payments capitalise into the market prices of male calves and young steers in Ireland. It is also likely that DP capitalises into the prices of beef cows and heifers. Given this capitalisation process, some farmers can obtain ‘capitalised’ DP on animals produced over and above the ‘claim-limiting’ restrictions, by selling these animals through auction markets. Thus, ‘capitalised’ DP probably encourages production over and above the limiting measures.