The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) is calling on Minister Michael Creed to make changes to the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) scheme to ensure all of the €100 million funding is drawn down.

Joe Healy, the association’s president, claimed that it would be an “absolute scandal”, if some of the money went unspent.

The deadline for applying for the scheme is 5:00pm this evening, Friday, September 20, and the IFA is calling for changes to be announced that would result in more money being paid out.

It would be an absolute scandal if Minister Creed allowed bureaucracy and restrictions to prevent farmers from drawing down all of the €100 million. Livestock farmers are in a desperate income crisis.

So far, around €80 million of the €100 million has been accounted for in the applications made to date.

Angus Woods, the association’s national livestock chairperson, called for the removal of “unnecessary restrictions” around the scheme, and for an increase in payment rates.

“The minister has several options open to him to allow livestock farmers draw down all the €100 million,” Woods commented.

He could extend the payment period beyond May 12 and he could increase the payment rates to suckler cows close to €80/cow.

As the rules of the scheme currently stand, suckler farmers who apply will receive €40 per eligible animal, up to a maximum of 40 cows per applicant.

“The 5% stocking rate reduction, and the exclusion of dairy farmers with beef enterprises; partnerships; and cattle slaughtered in Northern Ireland – all of these unnecessary restrictions could be removed,” Woods argued.

There have been concerns from many quarters over the possibility of the €100 million going unspent.

Today’s deadline is the third deadline that the BEAM scheme has had, after it was initially extended and, on Monday, September 16, reopened until today, Friday.

Announcing on Monday that the scheme was to open again, Minister Creed said: “I encourage anyone who is eligible to apply to avail of this final opportunity to apply for the scheme.”