Concerns have been raised that the 5% stock reduction requirement under the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) scheme could “distort the market and destabilise prices”.

The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA) is calling on Michael Creed, the Minster for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, to remove the requirement, saying it was a major factor in the low uptake for the BEAM scheme in the first place.

Colm O’Donnell, the association’s president, pointed out that the reduction would “coincide with the removal of Covid-19 restrictions on our cattle markets”.

There is a real concern that farmers will be forced to choose between selling cattle into an already depressed market in order to hold their payment, or hold onto stock and forfeit the payment.

“This decision will be decided by simple economics but as things now appear I wouldn’t bet against farmers holding onto stock and forfeiting the payment,” O’Donnell suggested.

The INHFA president claimed this would be “damaging” to Minister Creed’s department, and may “jeopardise future funding opportunities”.

O’Donnell also pointed out that some 200 farmers who applied for a stock reduction derogation in BEAM last year “have not yet been paid nor informed if the department have accepted their claim that a reduction in stock numbers would impact on compliance with existing Pillar II schemes”.

BPS help-desk phone-line

In other payment-related news, the department’s Basic Payments Scheme (BPS) help-desk phone-line will be available for extended hours in the run up to the deadline for BPS applications next Friday, May 15.

The help-desk service telephone is available on: 0761-064420 and will now be available as follows:

  • Tomorrow, Saturday, May 9, from 9:30am to 5:00pm;
  • Between 9:15am and 9:00pm from Monday, May 11, to Thursday, May 14;
  • Between 9:15am and 12:00am on Friday, May 15.

The rate of submission of applications for the 2020 BPS continues to be significantly ahead of last year’s rate, Minister Creed has noted.