McConalogue: ‘Highly unlikely rules could change’ on BEAM

It is ‘highly unlikely that rules could be changed’ on the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) scheme, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has said.

Fianna Fáil senator Eugene Murphy said today (Monday, January 25) that he had raised the issue with the minister, particularly the issue of the 5% reduction in bovine nitrogen manure required for farmers involved in the scheme.

Murphy noted that farmers in the scheme would “in many cases have to reduce their herd by a certain number, depending on size”.

Nationally almost 19,000 farmers are affected who are not achieving the 5% reduction requirement in the scheme. The minister informed me that he is very aware of the situation and difficulties for some farmers.

“He [the minister] said it is highly unlikely that rules could be changed, but that he was looking to see if anything else could be done to assist some of the farmers affected,” Murphy said.

The senator pointed to the disruption on the mart trade caused by Covid-19, as well as difficulties for farmers in engaging with advisors, as the causes behind these farmers not being on track to hit the target.

The matter has been worsened because marts have been curtailed under Covid-19 restrictions and farmers are unable to engage as normal with their advisors.

“I will continue to engage with the minister in relation to the matter to see if some progress can be made,” Murphy concluded.

On farm-inspections ‘essential work’

In other news concerning the minister, he has said in answer to a recent parliamentary question that conducting on-farm inspections is deemed essential work amid the current tight Covid-19 restrictions.

Minister McConalogue was responding to a parliamentary question from independent TD for Roscommon-Galway Denis Naughten, who asked why “departmental inspectors are still performing on-farm inspections during the Level 5 restrictions, given the potential risk of spreading Covid-19 when it is not deemed essential work”.

The minister, however, disputed this, saying that inspections are essential work, and adding that “in certain situations, a farm visit is required in order to complete the pre-payment checks and controls necessary to make vital payments to these farmers”.