The Department and Agriculture, Food and the Marine and farm organisations discussed a proposal on the possible distribution of the €100m beef fund earlier this morning (Thursday, July 11th).
The proposed Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) scheme will provide payment rates of €100/head for beef finishers and €40/head for suckler farmers.
- Finishers can apply for a maximum of 100 animals;
- Suckler farmers can apply for a maximum of 40 sucklers which calved in 2018;
- Applicants must be in an environmental scheme or the Bord-Bia Quality-Assurance scheme;
- Applicants will be required to reduce the level of nitrogen produced in cattle manure by 5% - 12-month timeframe and the reference period for this will run from July 2018 to June 2019 (inclusive) to be compared with July 2020 to June 2021 (inclusive);
- Cattle dealer, agent and dairy herds will not be eligible to apply;
- All finished animals over 12 months to include heifers, steers, bulls and cull cows in a reference period from September 24th,2018 to the week commencing May 6th, 2019;
- A 5% stocking rate in stocking rates in 2021 compared with July 2020.
Increase upper limit to 200 head
Speaking following the meeting, Edmond Phelan - ICSA President said: “ICSA welcomes the general outline to pay finishers €100/head and a payment for all suckler cows which calved in 2018.”
However, Mr Phelan argued strongly against an upper limit of 100 head for finishers. “ICSA wants to see an upper limit of 200 head because full-time winter finishers have suffered massive losses and it is vital that they are back at the ring for the sake of all suckler and store producers.”
“ICSA argued that it is possible to increase the upper limit to 200 head without affecting the rate of €100/ head simply by explicitly excluding factory feedlots."
"The reality also is that not every single farmer will apply so this could be done while maintaining the commitment to pay the target rates to finishers and sucklers.”
ICSA expressed concern around the conditionality on the scheme, specifically the requirements on being a member of a QAS scheme or agri-environment scheme, as well as the 5% stocking rate reduction for the year 2020-2021.
“Two-thirds of suckler farmers are not quality assured, although some of them will be in BDGP, GLAS or the organic scheme. While it is still possible for them to apply for the BQAS, we are concerned that this will act as a barrier.”
“On the stocking rate, the Minister argued that most farmers could qualify by selling animals a month earlier but ICSA believes that this will be hard to achieve in practice and it could have unintended consequences for the trade,” he concluded.