Exclusion of dairy farmers from BEAM ‘discriminatory’ – IFA

The exclusion of dairy farmers from the €100 million Beef Emergency Aid Measure (BEAM) is “discriminatory, unfair and unprecedented” according to the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

Tom Phelan, the association’s dairy committee chairperson, argued that “it was wrong of [Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine] Michael Creed to exclude prime beef cattle from dairy farmers from the BEAM scheme, and it should be changed immediately.”

He highlighted the fact that Joe Healy, the IFA’s president, has already spoken to Minister Creed on this issue, and that the association had been lobbying other members of Government as well.

I would add that it is discriminatory, unfair and to the best of my knowledge, unprecedented.

“Minister Creed must review the scheme so that dairy farmers are treated the same as all other farmers, bearing in mind that farmers involved in other commodities or professions are eligible in the current draft,” said Phelan.

He argued that dairy farmers who produce beef cattle have also been affected by Brexit uncertainty over the last year.

“The scheme was meant for the genuine farmers who had lost money producing beef because of Brexit. Dairy farmers producing beef cattle have lost money on these animals during the reference period, and must be included,” he urged.

Quite apart from the unfairness displayed by the minister towards an entire farming sector, I am also concerned that this sets a very dangerous precedent that anyone who genuinely cares about the sustainable development of Irish agriculture should avoid at all cost.

Among the other reactions to the non-inclusion of dairy farmers in BEAM, the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) said that “simple fairness and consistency demanded” that all farmers involved in beef production should be eligible for a share in the fund.

“It seems very straightforward to ICMSA that the only workable and fair basis for distribution of the Brexit beef fund is that any farmer who can demonstrate Brexit-related losses should be eligible,” said the association’s president, Pat McCormack.

“We urge the minister – for the sake of simple logic, fairness and farmer solidarity – to go forward on that basis,” he added.