Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (718)

Denis Naughten

Question:

718. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will waive penalties on farmers not reaching the 5% nitrate reduction under the BEAM scheme in view of the fact that the suckler herd has reduced by a figure greater than 5%; if he will engage with the European Commission on this stipulation in view of the impact of Covid-19 restrictions on reaching this target at farm level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2872/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

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 in light of the Covid-19 market disturbance.

One of the conditions under which the €50 million was granted by the EU was that there had to be an element of reduction or re-structuring built in to 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. This reduction could only be recorded against individual herds that signed up for the programme.

Obligations under the measure were developed based on analysis of the herd profile and nitrates profile of the national herd. It was designed, in consultation with farmer representative organisations, to make the measure as easy to participate in as possible, whilst maintaining the requirement under the implementing regulation for temporary market adjustments.

Since 2019, 33,445 farmers have received some €77.72M as part of the scheme.