Letter to the editor: ‘I invested €70,000 in a slatted unit 2 years ago. What happens now?’

I am writing to you as I eat my breakfast. I am in the situation, along with many others, whereby my weanlings were sold prior to the announcement of the BEEP-S suckler scheme for calves born between July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020.

My cows calve during the months of July and August each year. I meal-feed the calves while housed each winter and sell them in the spring.

This year I sold my weanlings on March 4. I could have sold them at least a fortnight earlier, but I hung on in the hope that the scheme would be announced. When March began, I couldn’t wait any longer – especially as the coronavirus [Covid-19] was tightening its grip across Europe. That’s why I had to sell on March 4.

Scheme announcement

The scheme was then announced on March 11. It looks as though my weanlings that were sold are now ineligible because they are not on my holding anymore, even though they were on my holding since birth – in July/August 2019.

These weanling were weighed regularly, as I actually have my own weighing scales. As I’ve already mentioned, they were meal-fed since they were housed in November.

I spoke to a man in the Department of Agriculture. He told me that the terms of the scheme were decided upon by the Minister for Agriculture and not the department.

I also spoke to a TD; he told me that he was sympathetic to my situation. He said that he would look into it, but he hasn’t come back to me.

‘Retrospective payment?’

I’m sure I have read that someone in the industry said – back in February – that beef farmers who may have to sell weanlings prior to the announcement of this year’s BEEP-S scheme should weigh their weanlings prior to sale…in the hope or expectation that they would be paid retrospectively.

I am a young beef farmer with a small number of beef cows – similar to many beef holdings around the country. I invested €70,000 in a slatted unit two years ago; my annual repayments are due each December. I also have a mortgage for my family home, along with a young family. Trying to pay the bills occupies my thoughts.

Also Read: Opinion: We aspire to own land, but what does ‘ownership’ now mean…as farming itself may be ‘for sale’?

It’s extremely unfair – for farmers like me – that the announcement of this scheme was delayed for so long. It has resulted in my exclusion from it, along with many others I would guess. Can anything be done about this?

From a farmer/reader, Co. Kerry (name supplied but not published)