BEAM should be for farmers whose ‘primary enterprise’ is beef – ICSA

Funds from the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) scheme should be for farmers whose “primary enterprise” is dependent on the beef trade, according to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA).

Edmond Phelan, the association’s recently elected president, said that the €100 million fund should be directed toward “the lowest farm income sectors”.

“This fund must be for those whose primary farm enterprise is dependent on the state of the beef trade and who have suffered the greatest hardship from Brexit-related price pressures,” argued Phelan.

The expectation from the outset was that finishers and suckler farmers would be the beneficiaries.

Phelan quoted the figures in the recent Teagasc National Farm Survey to highlight the drop in incomes for sucker farmers and beef finishers.

“It is unconscionable to think that money would be diverted from these farmers to dairy farmers who, despite having a relatively bad year themselves, still managed earnings of €61,273 in 2018,” he said.

Phelan claimed: “It defies logic for anyone to lobby for their inclusion in this particular exceptional aid measure.

The difference in annual incomes is clear for all to see, and points directly at where the funds should go.

Phelan also pointed to what he said was the frustration among some beef finishers in the ICSA who are not pleased with the scheme’s details.

“ICSA has many full-time finishers who feel very frustrated that the scheme is limited to 100 animals. These farmers, who are fully dependent on their beef farming enterprise, have seen losses of over €100/head on hundreds of animals,” he stressed.

Phelan argued that the limit of €10,000 (100 animals at €100/head) would “go nowhere near meeting their losses”, and that the limit for finishers should be increased to 200 animals.

This, he argued, would “be of massive benefit to full-time beef farmers and will benefit other farmers by keeping them in business at the mart ringsides”.