Farmers who are currently on track to meet the 5% livestock manure nitrogen reduction requirement under the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) scheme by the end of the original reference period will not need to adhere to the new reference period.

Earlier this evening, AgriLand reported that the European Commission had told Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue that a change to the scheme’s reference period was a decision for the government here.

Minister McConalogue has subsequently confirmed that there will be a new reference period of January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021, but only for farmers who apply for it.

Those farmers currently on track to meet the 5% nitrogen reduction targets can use the original reference period ending June 30, the minister confirmed.

“I welcome the decision by the European Commission to allow Ireland to amend the reduction period under the BEAM scheme for those who require it. As the European Commission is a significant funder of BEAM, it was critical that they were consulted on Ireland’s proposed change,” the minster said.

He added: “The option of a new reduction period now gives those farmers who want it a second opportunity to meet the nitrogen reduction requirement of the scheme.

Now that this flexibility has been secured, I will be intensifying our engagement with farm organisations and agricultural consultants to ensure their respective members and clients are fully informed of the requirements of the scheme and the new reduction period.

“My department will be writing to all of the scheme participants shortly giving updated nitrogen figures to clearly inform them of what they need to do meet the requirements of the scheme and will also be giving advice on how and when they can opt to change the reduction year,” Minister McConalogue said.