Denis Naughten TD has welcomed confirmation that farmers can opt for alternative reference dates for BEAM. However, he pointed out that farmers should be deemed to comply if they achieve the 5% reduction in any 12-month period between July 2020 and January 2022 rather than being tied to specific dates defined by the Department of Agriculture.
“The Department has now written to farmers participating in BEAM informing them that they can use the existing reference period of July 2020 to June 2021 or an alternative set of dates from January 2021 to December 2021,” explained Denis Naughten. “While this flexibility is welcome, it falls short of the type of flexibility that should be provided to participants.”
Deputy Naughten, who led the campaign for changes to the BEAM 5% reduction in bovine livestock manure nitrogen on holdings, acknowledged that Minister McConalogue has been prepared to listen to the points he made by moving from a rigid cut-off date of July 2021 to seeking flexibility from the EU Commission.
“We now need to go a little further by allowing farmers to comply with any 12-month reference period up to 31st December next,” added Denis Naughten.
“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.
“I want to acknowledge that Minister McConalogue 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 online BEAM calculator.
“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 data presented to date to farmers has been misleading because while they are compliant with the 5% reduction now, they might find themselves in a completely different position next July,” concluded Denis Naughten.