Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Matt Carthy TD, has called on the Minister for Agriculture to outline how he intends to resolve the rapidly evolving BEAM scheme debacle.
The Beef Exceptional Aid Measure provided famers with temporary financial aid in response to a prolonged period of depressed beef prices. To avail of the scheme, farmers were required to commit a 5% reduction of bovine livestock manure nitrogen.
While flexibility in the reference period was secured in the past few weeks to allow farmers more time to meet the 5% reduction, Teachta Carthy said that this would only have the effect of kicking the problem down the road unless firm action was promptly taken to address the confusion that has become a hallmark of the scheme.
Teachta Carthy said:
“Sinn Féin have been highlighting issues with the BEAM scheme for some time. Now farmers are facing up to €40 million in clawbacks from the department.
“The Minister has bought himself some time but must now outline how he intends to address the deficiencies in the scheme.
“In the face of the ongoing pandemic and the fallout from Brexit, farmers do not need a department asleep at the wheel. The Minister should immediately outline how he intends to address these outstanding issues so that farmers can have some level of certainty and stability.
“The debacle has arisen due to reports that Teagasc, and other agriculture advisors, differ to the department on methods to calculate nitrate figures under the scheme.
“It also seems there are delays of up to six weeks for farmers to even receive figures from the department – this needs to be promptly reduced, the Minister needs to identify the cause of this delay and he must address it immediately.
“Many farmers simply will not have the money to pay back what the department will be seeking, and it is therefore incumbent on the Minister to outline his plan immediately.”