An independent TD has said that there needs to be greater flexibility in terms of the alternative reference dates being offered to farmers who are trying to meet targets under the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) scheme.

Deputy Denis Naughten has welcomed recent confirmation that farmers can opt for alternative reference dates.

Also Read: Farmers to be given choice on BEAM reference period

However, the Roscommon-Galway deputy pointed out that farmers should be deemed to comply if they achieve the 5% reduction in any 12-month period between July 2020 and January 2022, rather than being tied to specific dates defined by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).

pgi grass-fed denis naughten Minister

Deputy Denis Naughten

Reference dates

“The department has now written to farmers participating in BEAM informing them that they can use the existing reference period of July 2020 to June 2021 or an alternative set of dates from January 2021 to December 2021,” deputy Naughten said.

While this flexibility is welcome, it falls short of the type of flexibility that should be provided to participants.

“We now need to go a little further by allowing farmers to comply with any 12-month reference period up to December 31 next.”

He said that this would allow farmers who are under the 5% target reduction by next July to be deemed compliant with the terms of the scheme, and allow other farmers to reach that target threshold in any 12-month period after that date.

“I want to acknowledge that Minister [Charlie] McConalogue [Minister for Agriculture] also acceded to my request for farmers to have access to a clear set of figures for their nitrogen reduction from July 2020 with the online BEAM calculator,” the deputy added.

Such a move will not only inform BEAM participants as to how much of their target figure they have used, but also allow them to predict what changes they need to make to their herd to reach the 5% reduction over any 12-month period.

“The data presented to date to farmers has been misleading because while they are compliant with the 5% reduction now, they might find themselves in a completely different position next July,” concluded deputy Naughten.