Some flexibility and exemptions are needed on the Beef Emergency Aid Measure (BEAM) scheme, according to the president of the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA).

Colm O’Donnell was specifically referring to the proposed requirement for a 5% reduction in the organic manure produced per herd.

He added that Minister Michael Creed “now needs to clarify” whether or not suckler farmers with legally binding minimum stocking densities will be required to destock numbers in order to meet the conditionality attached to BEAM.

These stocking densities would relate to the nature directives and Commonage Framework Plans, and farmers participating in commonage management plans under the Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS).

“It would be unacceptable if suckler farmers are discriminated from joining the temporary exceptional aid measure because of being unable to meet the proposed criteria due to legally binding stocking minimums for existing schemes,” argued O’Donnell.

He warned: “Unless Minister Creed includes flexibilities in drawing up the terms and conditions of the new scheme, these farmers simply will be unable to apply.

“I genuinely feel that funding draw down will be left behind unless all suckler farmers can apply. A further insurance the minister should consider is a top-up payment on the first 10 cows for all participants, so that no money will be sent back to Brussels,” O’Donnell concluded.

Scheme details

The finalised details of the BEAM scheme were released yesterday, Monday, July 29, and have since stoked much discussion, particularly over the exclusion of dairy herds with over 40 cows.

Another leading farmer organisation said it would “set a disastrous precedent” to exclude dairy farmers from the scheme.

“The exclusion will have long-term negative effects, and can only be interpreted as the Government conceding to the loudest voices as opposed to the fairest argument,” claimed Pat McCormack, president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA).

The details of the scheme will now have to be signed off on by the European Commission before the funds can be distributed.