‘Minister has power to redefine BEAM terms’ – INHFA

Michael Creed, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, is being called on to change the terms and conditions of the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) scheme to allow suckler farmers to draw down more payments then originally allocated for them.

The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA) has also called on the minister to reopen the scheme for a period of time to allow more suckler farmers apply, and to provide top-up payments on the first 10 cows for suckler farmer applicants.

Colm O’Donnell, the association’s president, said that Minister Creed “reserves the right to alter the procedures to be followed in the operation of the BEAM scheme”.

The minister has the power to interpret or redefine the meaning of any aspect of the terms and conditions, including the flexibility to adjust the level of financial aid wherever specified in the measure.

“The massive underspend…is a direct result of the conditionality attached to the measure, which has discriminated against small suckler herds, where a forced reduction would deteriorate the resilience and sustainability of the beef sector in naturally constrained areas,” claimed O’Donnell.

“The INHFA  is calling on the minister to adjust the terms and conditions to allow these excluded suckler farmers to apply, by reopening the scheme for this purpose. In addition, we are also calling on the minister to provide a top-up payment for the first 10 suckler cows to ensure the full draw-down of the available funds,” the INHFA president concluded.

Final numbers

Yesterday, Tuesday, September 24, a spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine revealed that the total number of applications received by the department for the BEAM scheme stands at 34,517.

At present, 560 applications are under appeal, the department spokesperson added.

Under the scheme, aid is paid on adult cattle slaughtered between September 24, 2018, and May 12, 2019, at a rate of €100/animal subject to a maximum of 100 finished animals per herd.

Aid will also be paid on suckler cows that calved in 2018, at a rate of €40/animal subject to a maximum of 40 sucklers per herd.

The scheme was open to more than 70,000 beef and suckler farmers.