Just 43% of BEAM participants currently meeting 5% requirement

Approximately 18,000 farmer participants in the Beef Emergency Aid Measure (BEAM) have yet to meet the 5% reduction in organic nitrogen requirement, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has confirmed.

Of the 32,444 farmers to receive €78 million in payments under the scheme, just 14,072 (43%) are currently meeting the requirement, according to the authority.

The remaining farmers have until June 30, 2021 to make the necessary reductions of 5% of livestock manure nitrogen, compared to the reference period of July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019 – or face a clawback of payments, as things stand.

This would amount to more than €40 million if figures remain as they are, come July.

In a statement on the matter to AgriLand, a spokesperson for the department said: “14,072 BEAM participants are currently meeting the 5% requirement with a further 967 having a reduction between 4% and 5%.

Any recoupment of monies will be processed in line with the standard procedures in place.

“Force majeure requests are dealt with on a case by case basis, but in general there is a precedent in other schemes for situations relating to TB restrictions to qualify as force majeure.

“80 requests have been received from farmers wishing to return the BEAM payment, and to date 65 of these requests have been processed,” the department representative added.

Minister exploring options

It is understood that Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine is exploring options on the matter.

In a brief statement, Minister McConalogue said: “As minister I understand the concerns raised by some farmers who are currently not reaching their reduction targets.

I am also conscious that many applicants have already taken the steps necessary to comply with the scheme’s terms and conditions, and that others took the decision not to apply. These are also relevant considerations.

“I have been listening to and engaging with farmers on the issue and I am exploring whether any fair and proportionate options are available to facilitate compliance under the terms and conditions of the scheme approved by the European Commission,” the minister concluded.