There will be no wiggle room on commitments for the 5% reduction of bovine livestock manure nitrogen under the Beef Emergency Aid Measure (BEAM) scheme, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has indicated.

The minister outlined this week that the 5% reduction target “remains a central requirement of the programme”.

The minister was responding to a parliamentary question from independent TD for Galway/Roscommon Michael Fitzmaurice who asked if the 5% reduction would be waived for participants in view of the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting difficulties regarding the movement of livestock.

In his answer to deputy Fitzmaurice, Minister McConalogue said:

The objective of the €75 million BEAM was to provide temporary exceptional adjustment aid to farmers in the beef sector in Ireland subject to the conditions set out in the EU Commission.

“Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/1132. This aid was granted to provide temporary market adjustment support in response to a specific market disturbance as outlined in Ireland’s notification to the EU Commission and the 5% reduction was part of the conditionality sought by the EU.

“Approved BEAM participants have given a commitment to reduce the production of bovine livestock manure nitrogen on the holding by 5% for the period July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021, as compared with the period July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019, as recorded on department systems.

“It remains a central requirement of the programme and has been since its inception.

While there has been intermittent disruption to mart sales over the reduction period to date, the level of trade overall is comparable to the same period last year and the facilities to reduce or restructure a participating herd in line with scheme requirements remain in place.

The minister said that a “significant portion of participating farmers” have already made the necessary adjustments to their herds to deliver the reduction required.

“Participants who need advice on how to manage this reduction can contact the department or consult an agricultural advisor to work out which changes will make most sense on their farm.

“In addition, my department will shortly be writing to participating farmers with information to assist them in meeting the 5% commitment on their holdings.

“My department is also engaging with public and private agricultural advisors to ensure that their farmer customers are informed of their requirements,” the minister concluded.