The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has welcomed the clarification of the details for the Beef Emergency Aid Measure (BEAM) scheme, and has called for the €100 million fund to be paid out “as quickly as possible”.

Edmond Phelan, the association’s president, expressed his disappointment that the fund can’t be paid out any sooner than October 16, citing EU funding rules.

However, he said that the ICSA considers this the “latest acceptable date for funds to arrive in farmers’ accounts”.

The beef trade is deteriorating every week and this fund is only a drop in the ocean compared to the losses being sustained by farmers.

Phelan also took issue with the fact that the upper limit of cattle that finishers would be paid on remains at 100 head.

“Losses for those who sold above that number during the time-frame will be significant. If, however, the scheme is undersubscribed, ICSA will be pushing to see that the maximum payment is increased accordingly,” Phelan argued.

Phelan went on to underline aspects of the terms and conditions that are, in his view, “problematic” – particularly the requirement to cut bovine livestock manure nitrogen by 5% per herd.

Progress with this will have to be monitored closely to ensure that compliance with this measure is achieved, and we have to seek some flexibility with this.

“ICSA is adamant that no farmer loses out as a result of this bureaucratic requirement… [We] will be insisting that the department outlines its plans to ensure that farmers are given assistance on an ongoing basis over the period July 2020 to June 2021 to help them comply with this requirement,” Phelan asserted.

“Now though, the priority is to ensure that all those who are eligible to apply for the scheme do so,” he said in conclusion.