Plans must be put in place to ensure the full €100 million under the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) scheme goes to deserving farmers – including those who exported finished cattle to Northern Ireland, according to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA).

Commenting on the scheme, which saw applications to the value of €78 million made, ICSA beef chairman Edmund Graham said:

“The ICSA is insisting that any unused funds should be directed to increase the compensation per eligible animal,” he said.

“BEAM was never going to be a perfect solution for those who made horrendous losses since the autumn of 2018.

However, we have an opportunity now to make the necessary tweaks to the scheme in order to get this money where it needs to go, and this needs to be done without delay.

The farm organisation noted that a total of 34,517 applications for compensation were received under the BEAM scheme, the closing date for which was last Friday, September 20.

Current estimates indicate that close to €22 million will remain unclaimed if changes to the scheme are not made.

Continuing, Graham said: “It is imperative we see the entirety of these funds going to those whose primary farm enterprise is dependent on the state of the beef trade, who suffered the greatest hardship, and for whom this fund was rightly sought.”

The ICSA is also calling on the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to recognise the eligibility of farmers who exported finished cattle to Northern Ireland.

“It is important that these farmers have access to BEAM also,” Graham said.