The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) is calling for Minister Michael Creed to extend the application period for the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) scheme so farmers can apply in person at the 2019 National Ploughing Championships.
Joe Healy, the association’s president, said that farmers should be given the opportunity to call in to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine stand at the ‘Ploughing’ to submit an application.
“There has been a strong level of applications this week, which proves that extending the original closing date was the correct decision,” said Healy.
There is a unique opportunity at the [National] Ploughing Championships next week to get farmers to apply for the scheme when they visit the Department of Agriculture stand. The minister must extend the closing date and provide this opportunity to farmers.
“The minister cannot let a situation develop where any of this money is left behind, considering the severe income crisis in the livestock sector,” added the IFA president.
Angus Woods, the IFA’s national livestock chairperson, criticised the restrictions on the scheme, suggesting that these were responsible for the low uptake for BEAM that has been observed so far.
“It is incredible that both the Department of Agriculture and the EU Commission have imposed unnecessary restrictions on the scheme, which are preventing farmers from applying,” said Woods.
The current closing date is this coming Sunday, September 15, which was extended from the previous deadline of last Sunday, September 8.
Phil Hogan, the outgoing Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, has warned that the low uptake “weakens the case for future financial support for future action in the beef sector from the EU in the context of a hard Brexit”.
Speaking on Newstalk this week, Hogan said: “It will be a bit of an embarrassment to me and everyone else if there’s money that has to be returned, because I made the case here in the European Commission to get this money.”