IFA says department’s handling of BEAM scheme has deen ‘disastrous’

The Department of Agriculture’s handling of the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure, better known as the BEAM scheme, has been disastrous.

That’s according to IFA President Tim Cullinan.

The BEAM monies were provided to suckler and beef farmers to offset the enormous losses experienced on their farms arising from Brexit

However, Mr Cullinan says that since the monies were committed, the Department of Agriculture had put obstacles in the way of farmers receiving what are vital supports.

He said the Department of Agriculture had further compounded the difficulties for farmers by threatening interest on monies owed, and had even moved ahead of this by deducting the monies from other farm scheme payments.

Mr Cullinan said the inclusion of the 5% reduction in the first instance should never have been part of the scheme.

He added that the lack of detailed up-to-date information for farmers in meeting this requirement; the failure to appropriately recognise the impact of TB restrictions on farmers trying to meet the 5% reduction; and the penalties for farmers who just missed out on meeting the 5% reduction, all
contributed to the problem.

The IFA is meeting with the Department of Agriculture on the issue and has called on the Minister for Agriculture and Donegal TD Charlie McConalogue to ensure there is an acceptable resolution to this issue.

IFA Livestock Chairman Brendan Golden said the Minister and his officials were given flexibilities by the EU Commission and these must be fully utilised.

Mr Golden said it was not acceptable to have moved to recoup monies from farmers, adding that all farmers in the BEAM scheme must be given a fair and reasonable opportunity to retain what they drew down.

Finally, IFA Rural Development Michael Biggins said farmers who would have expected their ANC payment this week cannot have it deducted.

“It’s an important payment for farmers who have bills to pay,” he said.