An Irish MEP has raised fears that the measures included in the EU’s regulations on the €100 million aid fund for the beef sector can be “rolled over and extended” over several years.

Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan said he was worried that this would result in the Irish agriculture sector being “forced down the road of production reduction”.

Speaking on the latest episode of FarmLand, the Midlands-North West MEP said: “When we contacted the Department of Agriculture to see their submission on this, they applied under Article 219 of the regulations for a temporary disturbance – something that would only be for the short term, under one year.

But what we got in the end is something under article 221, which can actually be rolled over and extended, and my worry is that this will be extended and we will be forced down the road of production reduction.

Flanagan said that he and members of the European Parliament Agriculture Committee were “given assurances” by officials from the European Commission that it “was an option to reduce production”.

“We told them that our fear was that the department at home would say that we have no choice but to do this,” he explained.

Flanagan continued: “Those fears were borne out at the Public Accounts Committee, when the secretary general of the Department of Agriculture, Brendan Gleeson, said that this wasn’t an option; that it was something that we had to do.”

The Roscommon native said that he had since written to the Public Accounts Committee asking it to “correct the record”.

We have also contacted the commission to tell it that we have unfortunately been proven right, that this is the road they would drive us down.

“But the simple fact is this: “We do not have to reduce production, it is not a requirement and what we can do, and what we could do, is give this €50-100 million out as a top up to the ANC [Areas of Natural Constraints] payments – that would be a better way to do it,” argued Flanagan.