Tuesday, 17 December 2019
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
497. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of applications submitted to the BEAM scheme; the breakdown between suckler and beef finishers; the amount required to meet the demand; the amount unspent; and if he will consider reopening the scheme. [52692/19]
The objective of the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) is to provide temporary exceptional adjustment aid to farmers in the beef sector in Ireland subject to the conditions set out in EU Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/1132. Under the terms of that regulation, and the scheme as notified to the European Commission, it is not possible to open a second round of applications for the measure. The measure is co-funded with €50m of funding from the EU being matched by up to €50m of exchequer funds according to demand.
Applications for BEAM were accepted from 19th August to 20th September 2019. 34,517 approval letters issued to eligible BEAM applicants on the 11th October 2019 and, following further processing and validations, payments under the measure began on 12th December with 32,444 participants going forward for payments totaling €75,188,060.
8,476 participants qualified for payment solely under the Suckler element of the measure with a total payment of €6,016,920.
9,749 participants qualified for payment solely under the Finisher element of the measure with a total payment of €31,341,300.
14,219 participants qualified for payment under the Suckler and Finisher elements of the measure with a total payment of €37,829,840.
BEAM payments will continue to issue on an ongoing basis as more participating farmers are verified as compliant with the requirements of the Measure.
498. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the way in which the criteria for the BEAM scheme was devised; and his views on whether the criteria were too stringent in view of the fact some funds remain unspent. [52693/19]
This measure was born from the fact that the early months of 2019 were very challenging for beef farmers, in particular, following a difficult year for farm incomes in 2018 due to weather conditions. There was a prolonged and exceptional period of depressed prices since the previous autumn, with the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the outcome of Brexit, among other factors, contributing to this market disturbance.
The scheme was designed to ensure that the aid is effectively used and targeted towards those most affected by the market disturbance in the sector as identified by the data available. The eligibility criteria were devised accordingly with some environmental measures also necessary for applicants.
This temporary exceptional aid provision was given effect through a Commission Implementing Regulation.
Article 1.3 of the implementing regulation provides as follows:
The measures taken by Ireland shall be aimed at reducing production or restructuring the beef and veal sector and one or more of the following objectives:
(a) implementation of quality schemes in the beef and veal sector or projects aiming at promoting quality and value added;
(b) boosting market diversification;
(c) protecting and improving the farmers’ environmental, climate and economic sustainability.
The implementing regulation was within the competence of the European Commission; member states were invited to comment on the contents of the draft regulation, however, it was not open for negotiation. Ireland subsequently published a formal notification of the scheme as required under the regulation, this is available on my Department's website.
The Department designed the scheme to comply with the Commission Regulation and I am satisfied that the measure as designed offered the most flexibility possible to farmers within the parameters of the regulation.