Video: Farmers react to BEAM cap and restrictions

The Beef Plan Movement has been carrying out a number of protests at meat plants throughout the country during the past week, including at the Kepak facility in Kilbeggan, Co. Westmeath.

AgriLand reporter Breifne O’Brien was at the Kilbeggan protest, and he got the views of farmers regarding the Beef Emergency Aid Measure (BEAM) scheme, particularly the 100-animal cap for payments, and the requirement for farmers to be part of quality assurance schemes.

‘There’s no ‘eligible”

“I think 100 cattle is fair,” argued one farmer, adding: “Sure if you get the €10,000 that they’re talking about, it’ll be some help won’t it.”

However, this farmer took issue with the eligibility criteria attached to the scheme.

“If you kill cattle, you should get paid. There’s no ‘eligible’. If you fed them and have a meal bill, and killed them in the factory at a bad price you should get paid,” he said.

‘No one is going to make a whole fortune’

The second farmer to speak to AgriLand said that a cap at some level was necessary, and that “you can’t leave it indefinite”.

“It’ll suit some people; it won’t suit others,” he said.

However, he argued that: “There’s no one going to make a whole fortune with BEAM, or even be a quarter compensated for what they lost.”

He added that: “Poor representation in Europe is our biggest problem.”

‘€100 million won’t cover near what farmers lost’

These points were echoed by another farmer, who said that: “The €100 million, in my eyes, won’t cover near what the farmers lost so far.”

On the criteria for the scheme, he argued: “It’s like every scheme the Government brings in. The farmer has to support everyone else.

“You just look at the Knowledge Transfer. It’s the very same. You can’t get paid unless you join ICBF [Irish Cattle Breeding Federation], prop them up. Everyone gets money before the farmer,” he argued.

‘The bottom line is a fairer price’

The final farmer to speak to AgriLand said that – despite some farmers “getting something decent on it” – the BEAM scheme “is not going to make any difference to anything”.

On the criteria, this farmer said: “I think it’s just all in favour of the factories, it’s letting them know the numbers and what’s coming in, and they’ll know the weights, and they’re going to have as much information as they need. I think it’s all designed against the farmer at the end of the day.

There’s nothing there to benefit the farmer that he’s going to see in his pocket. It’s just another nail in the coffin really, isn’t it?

“The bottom line is, just a fairer price for what you’re doing. We are doing it green-friendly, and we’re producing good products and it’s healthy; just basically getting paid for the effort you’re putting in,” concluded this farmer.