‘Low BEAM uptake weakens case for future support’ – Hogan

The lack of farmer uptake on the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) scheme will weaken the prospects of future support from the EU to deal with a hard Brexit, Phil Hogan has warned.

Speaking on ‘The Hard Shoulder’ on Newstalk this evening, Tuesday, September 10, Commissioner Hogan expressed his disappointment at the lack of applications so far for the scheme, which, as of last Thursday, September 5, stood at just below 24,500.

“This is a specific measure for the beef sector. €100 million can be paid if people apply for it, and I’m disappointed to learn that there is such a low level of applications for this level of money at the moment,” he said.

I was told by the IFA [Irish Farmers’ Association] and others that there was a huge loss in terms of the profitability of the sector, and that there was a major financial loss to farmers.

“I then produced the money, and it seems there’s a reluctance on the part of the farmer to apply for this money,” said the outgoing Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development.

“I find that difficult to understand and it will be a bit of an embarrassment to me and everyone else if there’s money that has to be returned, because I made the case here in the European Commission to get this money,” he continued.

“27 member states approved this money. There was nothing in it for them, and other farm organisations around Europe are wondering how Ireland got the money,” Commissioner Hogan explained.

But let’s hope, that in the next week, people will apply for money, and that we will be able to draw it down, because it weakens the case for future financial support for future action in the beef sector from the EU in the context of a hard Brexit if we’re not able to spend this particular sum of money.

Commenting on the protests currently sweeping the country, Commissioner Hogan said: “Of course farmers in the beef sector are going through a very difficult time, and I can understand why there are protesting.”

However, he said that they “certainly have to have solutions as well that are able to be implemented”.

“The customer, at the end of the day, is the person we depend on to buy our product, and whatever the consumer wants is what we have to tailor our market towards,” he argued.

Commissioner Hogan is set to become the Commissioner for Trade in the new commission, the line-up of which was announced today by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.