Denis Naughten TD has welcomed clarification from the EU Commission that the Minister for Agriculture can alter the reference dates for the BEAM, however he cautioned that farmers should be deemed to comply if they achieve the 5% reduction in any 12 month period between July 2020 and 2022.
“I understand that the European Commission has replied to a letter from Minister Charlie McConalogue, telling him that the decision to change reference dates under the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) scheme is within the competency of his own Department, and this is a very welcome development,” said Denis Naughten.
Deputy Naughten, who led the campaign for changes to the BEAM 5% reduction in bovine livestock manure nitrogen on holdings, pointed out that it is imperative a closing date for this calculation should not be set until the online BEAM calculator is available to farmers.
“This would allow farmers who are under the 5% target reduction by next July to be deemed compliant with the terms of the scheme and allow other farmers to reach that target threshold in any 12-month period after that date,” explained Denis Naughten.
“I want to acknowledge that Minister McConalogue has been prepared to listen to the points I have made by moving from a rigid cut-off date of July 2021 to seeking flexibility from the EU Commission. He also acceded to my request for farmers to have access to a clear set of figures for their nitrogen reduction from July 2020 with the proposed online calculator.
“We now need the Minister to go a little further by allowing farmers to comply with any 12 month reference period within a practical window, which should only close when the online BEAM calculator being developed by his Department is available to farmers for a full 12 month period.
“Such a move will not only inform BEAM participants as to how much of their target figure they have used but also allow them to predict what changes they need to make to their herd to reach the 5% reduction over any 12-month period
“The current data presented to farmers is misleading and if a farmer had a mathematics degree and went through the figures, they might find a completely different story next July. Because information has not been presented in a user-friendly format, many farmers may mistakenly believe that they are already under target for July 2021,” concluded Denis Naughten.