€100m beef fund proposal - 100-head limit on finished cattle, dairy herds won't qualify

Margaret Donnelly and Martin Coughlan

Dairy herds and cattle dealers won't be eligible for any of the €100m beef fund, according to the Department's proposal on the distribution of the fund.

Details of the possible distribution of the €100m beef fund were discussed by the Department of Agriculture and farming organisations this morning. It's understood the Department is taking on board the views of the farming organisations, but it's not expected that another meeting will take place to finalise the plan.

The Department must have its plan submitted to Europe by July 31 on how it plans to distribute the fund.

It's understood that the reference period being proposed is for cattle over 12 months old that were slaughtered between September 24, 2018 and May 6, 2019. Suckler cows, with calves born in the calendar year of 2018, will also qualify.

There is a proposed 100-head limit on finished animals and a 40-head limit on suckler cows for applicants.

Suckler Cows

€40/hd on suckler cows who had a calf in 2018 up to max of 40 animals.

Cattle

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€100/hd on 100 cattle slaughtered between September 24, 2018 and May 6, 2019

The documents state that the proposed Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) will be a demand-led scheme, with both eligibility criteria and conditionality.

This means farmers who meet the initial eligibility criteria will then have to commit to meeting certain conditions in order to qualify for aid.

Eligibility for the proposed scheme includes that a Basic Payment application was made in 2018 and applicants have a valid herd number with eligible bovine animals.

Further, applicants must be part of a Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme or a Department agri-environmental scheme (BDGP, GLAS or organics) or have applied for such a scheme before the payment is issued.

It's also understood farmers applying for the funds must reduce by 5pc their levels of organic nitrogen. The reference period for nitrogen calculation is July 2018 to June 2019 and farmers will have to reduce organic nitrogen levels during the time frame of July 2020 to June 2021.

Dairy Farmers

Under the initial draft eligibility dairy herds will not be eligible for the scheme, nor will dealers or agents herds.

The funds will be paid to farmers after October 15, 2019 and it's understood that any applicant failing to meet nitrogen criteria will have monies clawed back after June 2021.

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