Tuesday, 13 July 2021
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
603. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if concerns have been raised with him in relation to difficulties farmers are experiencing in reducing their herd to comply with the BEAM scheme; if a further extension into 2022 will be considered given the limitations Covid-19 has caused for farmers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37269/21]
The objective of the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) was 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.
Just over 33,000 participants joined the scheme and over €77 million was paid to them in 2019. In joining the scheme, these participants gave a commitment to reduce the production of bovine livestock manure nitrogen on their holding by 5% for the period 1st July 2020 to 30th June 2021 as compared with the reference period of 1st July 2018 to 30th June 2019 as recorded on the Department's AIM system.
In light of the difficulties some farmers were experiencing in meeting this reduction arising from COVID-19 Government Public Health restrictions, I sought and received agreement to an alternative reduction period for those who required it. In that context, BEAM participants were able to select the alternative reduction period of 1st January 2021 to 31st December 2021 over which to meet their 5% reduction.
This facility opened on 19th March 2021 and remained open until 21st June 2021 and some 16,000 BEAM participants opted for the deferred reduction period. Farmers who opted to defer but who find that they have met the 5% reduction requirement by 30th June 2021 will be advised in writing that they are being removed from the deferred reduction period of 1st January - 31st December 2021 as they have already met their BEAM scheme requirements. The Department will be writing to them in August 2021 when the final bovine figures up to the 30th June 2021 are available. There are no plans to extend the reduction period into 2022 as I feel the second reference period gave farmers a good opportunity to comply with the scheme.
Farmers who have experienced restriction(s) due to an outbreak of TB on their holding during the reduction period, have had their 5% bovine nitrates reduction requirement reduced in line with the length of their restriction(s). Any BEAM participant who is currently still in a TB restriction will see their 5% bovine nitrates reduction requirement reduce over the duration of that restriction. Letters explaining this process issued in recent weeks to some 2,000 BEAM participants who fell into this category and, as new restrictions are registered, further letters will issue to BEAM participants concerned.
The Department continues to provide a monthly update to all BEAM participants with the bovine figures up to 31st May 2021 available on Agfood.ie. The monthly letter containing these bovine numbers has issued to BEAM participants in recent weeks and a letter detailing the bovine figures on participant holdings up to 31st May will issue in mid-July.
604. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if flexibility will be given to a farmer (details supplied) who was unaware that they could seek a concession under the BEAM scheme given that they had been restricted due to TB and therefore has found it more difficult to meet the conditions of the BEAM scheme with regard to reducing the herd. [37270/21]
The ability to seek a derogation from some or all of the nitrates reduction requirement under Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) was detailed in the terms and conditions of the scheme which have been available online since its launch and to which all applicants to the scheme indicated they had read and understood as part of the application process.
Close to 200 participants who felt they were unable to meet the scheme requirements vis a vis the 5% reduction requirement have successfully applied to the Department in that regard. Among those were farmers whose nitrates figures for the reference period were abnormally low due to the effects of a TB restriction and, for whom, a further reduction was unviable. This was available to all participants and applications had to be submitted prior to the 30th September 2019.
Anyone seeking to avail of such a derogation now can apply to have one considered under force majeure but will need to be mindful of the conditions under which force majeure is applied and will need to submit any documentary evidence in support of their claim as part of the force majeure application.