BEAM reaction: ‘Substantially more funding’ needed for beef sector

Substantially more EU and Government funding and supports will be needed for the beef sector in light of the increasing threat of a no-deal Brexit, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

IFA president Joe Healy gave his reaction to the announcement this morning, Monday, July 29, of the distribution of the €100 million fund in the form of the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM).

He said farmers urgently need more support and a clear roadmap from Brussels and Dublin as to how they will support the agricultural sector, should a no-deal Brexit come to pass.

The scheme announced today covers losses from September 24, 2018, to May 10, 2019. While this is important, unfortunately prices have deteriorated much further since May, with base prices down by 45c/kg or €160/head, Healy said.

IFA is calling on the Government and European Commission to:
  • Secure further direct aid support for farmers to deal with losses incurred, particularly for beef farmers, post-May 2019, due to increased Brexit uncertainty;
  • Make available the €1 billion EU fund immediately to stabilise the Irish and EU beef market;
  • Ban the importation of 270,000t of Mercosur beef imports from south America;
  • In the event of a no-deal/hard Brexit which reduces market access and increases barriers to trade, the EU must make available structural and adjustment funding;
  • Secure increased funding for the CAP in the next MFF 2021-2027;
  • Reject the proposal to cut the Irish allocation by €97 million per annum and seek an increase to take account of inflation and the extra demands on farmers.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, there may be further issues in terms of a shortfall in 2020; EU or national funding may be required in this instance, according to the president.

On the €100 million scheme itself Healy said that while he welcomed the fact that animals controlled by factories were excluded, he was concerned that the limits and conditions put in place by Minister Creed could lead to an underspend of the fund.

IFA livestock chairman Angus Woods added: “We want a commitment from the minister that if the money is underspent, that he will re-look at some of the limits and restrictions, or increase the payment rate.

“It would be a travesty if some of this funding went unspent due to restrictions put in place by the minister.”