This measure was born from the fact that the early months of 2019 were very challenging for beef farmers, in particular, following a difficult year for farm incomes in 2018 due to weather conditions. There was a prolonged and exceptional period of depressed prices since the previous autumn, with the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the outcome of Brexit, among other factors, contributing to this market disturbance.
The scheme was designed to ensure that the aid is effectively used and targeted towards those most affected by the market disturbance in the sector as identified by the data available. The eligibility criteria were devised accordingly with some environmental measures also necessary for applicants.
This temporary exceptional aid provision was given effect through a Commission Implementing Regulation.
Article 1.3 of the implementing regulation provides as follows:
The measures taken by Ireland shall be aimed at reducing production or restructuring the beef and veal sector and one or more of the following objectives:
(a) implementation of quality schemes in the beef and veal sector or projects aiming at promoting quality and value added;
(b) boosting market diversification;
(c) protecting and improving the farmers’ environmental, climate and economic sustainability.
The implementing regulation was within the competence of the European Commission; 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, this is available on my Department's website.
The Department designed the scheme to comply with the Commission Regulation and I am satisfied that the measure as designed offered the most flexibility possible to farmers within the parameters of the regulation.