The Government’s financial commitments under the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) scheme have been called in to question by the president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).
“€50 million of the funding for this scheme came from the EU, with a further €50 million allegedly ‘committed’ by the Irish Government,” Joe Healy pointed out.
He added: “Real questions now have to be asked as whether the Government genuinely intended to spend this amount of funding at all.”
“Right from the start we were clear that the way the minister [Michael Creed] devised this scheme would result in an underspend. Now it has been confirmed that at least €20 million [of €100 million] will be left behind, with further applications likely to be withdrawn due to unnecessary restrictions,” the IFA president continued.
He added: “This is a spectacular own goal by the minister. Commissioner [for Agriculture and Rural Development] Phil Hogan secured €50 million for Irish farmers from the commission and the Government promised to match it. It must make good on this promise.”
Healy concluded his comments by saying: “At a time when beef farmers are losing up to €200 per animal and are on their knees financially, it is inexplicable that €20 million would be left unspent due to the terms and conditions imposed on the scheme by our own minister.”
Healy’s comments come after it was confirmed by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine that the final number of applications under the BEAM scheme stands at 34,517.
At present, 560 applications are under appeal, according to a department spokesperson.
Some 70,000 beef and suckler farmers would have been eligible to apply for the scheme when it first opened.