Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Questions (824)

Brendan Smith


824. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the criteria applicable to BEAM will be improved in view of the likely shortfall in drawing down the full funding available for the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45464/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

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. BEAM is funded by a combination of EU aid and Exchequer support, provided in light of the difficult circumstances that Irish beef farmers have been facing as a result of market volatility and uncertainty.

The implementing regulation was within the competence of the European Commission and 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.

The scheme was designed to target aid to those who had been most impacted by the market disturbance for which it was requested. The reduction/restructuring requirement was required by the Commission; it was also required to be at individual farm level.

As the scheme is voluntary, it is a decision for individual eligible farmers as to whether to participate or not. In response to requests from farm bodies, the period for receipt of applications was extended to 20 September and there was support and advice available to prospective applicants from my Department at the National Ploughing Championships.

In total 34,517 applications were received, representing a potential payment of €78,192,380. A further 560 applicants, who did not qualify for the support as they had failed to meet the eligibility criteria laid down in the scheme Terms and Conditions, submitted an application under appeal in order to have their eligibility for the scheme reviewed.

Under the implementing regulation, Ireland may grant additional national support for the measures taken under Article 1 of the regulation up to a maximum of 100% of EU funding. Therefore, undrawn funds cannot be used for other purposes outside of the measure.

In Budget 2020, I have provided almost €85 million in targeted schemes to support sustainable beef farming. This includes almost €45 million for the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP), and a further €40 million for targeted supports. I intend to consult with stakeholders as to the use of these funds.