Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has written to the European Commission to seek additional “fair and proportionate” options for farmer participants in the Beef Emergency Aid Measure (BEAM).

In a brief statement, Minister McConalogue said: “I am 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.

“I have been listening to, and engaging with, farmers on the issue and I have written to the European Commission exploring whether any fair and proportionate options are available to help affected farmers in a fair way,” he said.

AgriLand understands that the minister has sought a new reference period under the scheme, from January 1 to December 31, 2021.

This would ease the pressure considerably on the 18,000 farmer participants of BEAM who had yet to meet the 5% reduction in organic nitrogen requirement as of January 19.

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

As things stand, 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.