Written answers

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Agriculture Schemes

Photo of Matt CarthyMatt Carthy (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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674. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of farmers who availed of the derogation regarding the BEAM scheme who are currently on track to meet the required 5% reduction; the number who are not; the average payment; the total payment by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49746/21]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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The Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) provided 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.

BEAM was funded by a combination of EU aid and Exchequer support. It was provided to support Irish beef farmers who saw beef prices fall as a result of disturbance to the market.

One of the conditions under which the €50 million was granted by the EU was that there had to be an element of re-structuring built into the scheme. Accordingly, in applying for BEAM, participants agreed 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 period 1st July 2018 to 30th June 2019.

I engaged with the EU Commission to seek flexibility around the deadline for meeting the 5% reduction. I succeed in introducing an option on agfood.ie on 19th March 2021 to choose an alternative reduction period of 1st January 2021 to 31st December 2021. In that period, just over 16,000 opted for the later reduction period.

When the original reduction period ended on 30th June 2021, it was identified that approximately 5,300 of the approximately 16,000 BEAM participants who had opted to defer had in fact met all their BEAM commitments including the 5% bovine nitrates reduction. The Department therefore removed them from the later reduction period.

This leaves approximately 10,700 BEAM participants in the later reduction period. These participants will continue to receive a monthly letter from my Department (as all participants have done since February 2021) outlining the amount of nitrates they have already used (accumulated), the amount of nitrates they have left to ensure they meet the 5% reduction and a projection based on the livestock numbers on their holding of their final nitrates position at the end of the reduction period.

The most recent analysis by theDepartment suggests;

a. Approximately 1,700 participants are on trackto meet the BEAM 5% bovine nitrates reduction requirement,

b. A further 300 are on course to deliver a nitrates reduction of between 4% and 5%, Part of the payment will be recouped from them.

c. Approximately 8,600 are currently predicted to miss the minimum 4% reduction and are therefore facing full recoupment of their BEAM payment.

d. Within that 8,600, in approximately 7,400of the herds, the bovine nitrates have increasedover the reduction period compared to the reference period,

e. Within the number of 7,400 herds, approx. 1,110 have already registered nitrates in excess of their target total.

The average payment for those BEAM participants who opted to defer is just less than €2,500.

The Department will continue, as it has been doing, to provide relevant information and updates to participants, but I would encourage all participants to take timely action to ensure they meet the commitments they signed up to in the Terms and Conditions of the scheme back in 2019.


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