Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) key details:

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Matt O'Sullivan

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D. recently announced details of the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM).

This measure will be funded by a combination of EU exceptional aid and Exchequer support.

This scheme is in light of the difficult circumstances that Irish beef farmers have been facing as a result of market volatility and uncertainty arising out of Brexit.

BEAM will provide financial aid to Irish beef farmers and is targeted towards those farmers most affected.

The scheme will be a voluntary scheme and will be targeted at beef finishers and also at suckler farmers. It should be noted that the final terms and conditions of the scheme are still not available.

Going on the details available currently we can outline the main points.

There will be a number of eligibility criteria to be met before applying for the scheme.

Eligibility criteria

Those farmers who meet the initial eligibility criteria will then have to commit to meeting a number of conditions in order to qualify for the aid.

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To be eligible for BEAM a farmer must either be a member of a Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme or a DAFM environmental scheme.

It is proposed that GLAS BDGP,BEEP,OFS will all qualify as suitable environmental schemes. This would allow for those farmers whose AEOS scheme contracts have ended since 2018.

Additionally applicants will have to commit to reducing the production of bovine livestock manure nitrogen (total figure) per herd by 5% for a target period (1 July 2020 - 30 June 2021) compared to a reference period (1 July 2018 and 30 June 2019). So, to put that very simply, it would equate to reducing a 20 cow herd by 1 cow over the period.

Payment rate

Aid will be paid on adult cattle slaughtered between 24 September 2018 and 12 May 2019, at a rate of €100 per animal subject to a maximum of 100 finished animals per herd.

Aid will also be paid on suckler cows that calved in 2018, at a rate of 40 per animal subject to a maximum of 40 sucklers per herd. Dairy herds are not eligible for the measure, with the exception of dairy herds of less than 40 dairy cows.

Smaller dairy farms typically have a mixed farming enterprise, with a lower than average dairy farm income, and a beef enterprise accounting for a higher proportion of total farm income.

Animals controlled by slaughtering establishments, and dealer/agent herds, are not eligible for this financial aid. In the event BEAM is oversubscribed, payment rates may be subject to minor revision.

Applications

Applications for the scheme will be online via the agfood.ie website with no paper applications accepted similar to the BEEP scheme.

Advisers/agent will also be able to submit an application on the farmers behalf provided the farmers gives permission to do so.

It is envisaged that applications will be accepted from the third week of August and the application period will be for 3 weeks.

At the time of application it will be visible on the BEAM site what the total N for the reference period on the farm was and what the new targeted 5% reduction figure will be.

If the targeted reduction is not met within the reference period monies will be recouped by DAFM into the future. The important thing to remember about the scheme is that it is based on total bovine N in the herd.

It is not per N/ hectare. So renting extra land or exporting slurry are not options. Actual reductions in stock numbers or earlier sale or finishing of stock will be required to meet the 5% reduction.

Every eligible farmer should consider this scheme carefully to ensure that the proposed target can be met and that you can maximise the financial benefit of it. Looking at current beef prices, meeting this 5% target would not seem to be a problem.

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