McConalogue called on to reveal opening date of BEEP 3

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has been called on by the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA) to open the third Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme (BEEP 3) for applications.

This, the organisation says, is to ensure that pairings of cows with calves born since July 1, 2020, can be included in the new suckler scheme.

INHFA president Colm O’Donnell underlined the urgency for suckler farmers to have a start date for applications.

Some of these calves are up to seven months-of-age and there is a need to get them weighed prior to weaning.

“In addition to this, time is also running out for farmers that choose the meal feeding option for pre and post weaning.”

Discussing the uptake of the scheme, the president said: “It is quite popular with suckler farmers especially when compared to the previous offerings such as BDGP [Beef Data and Genomics Programme] and BEAM [Beef Emergency Aid Measure].”

The success of BEEP has, he maintained, “proven how proper stakeholder consultation is a vital component” in designing new schemes.

Going forward, O’Donnell said he is hopeful that future schemes will “involve similar consultation with farming organisations in what can be a win-win for both the Department of Agriculture and farmers”.

Turning to BEAM and the potential claw-back of up to €40 million resulting from the production reduction clause, the president called on Minister McConalogue “to act quickly and decisively”.

He stressed that the only option now available is to seek a derogation from the EU Commission to give farmers an exemption on the proposed 5% reduction.

“The justification for this derogation can be based on the Covid-19 restrictions. These are impacting heavily on farmers’ ability to trade stock, especially those trading weanlings and store cattle,” O’Donnell concluded.