IFA Livestock Chairman Brendan Golden said the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue must move immediately to resolve the BEAM scheme issues for farmers.
He was commenting following a meeting with senior DAFM officials.
Brendan Golden said it’s a clear failure of the BEAM scheme and its administration that 11,000 farmers have, or will have, €18m clawed back from them, primarily as a result of poor scheme design.
Figures show at the end of the latest reference period in the region of 7,500 more farmers have not met the 5% requirement and are liable to have another almost €13m clawed back. This follows the clawback of over €5m from over 3,500 farmers last year.
Brendan Golden said it’s inconceivable that the Minister for Agriculture would allow his officials issue letters to suckler and beef farmers in the coming days demanding the repayment of these monies with the threat of interest charges.
“Suckler and beef farmers have seen the value of current beef prices completely eroded by production cost increases. This situation has been further compounded by the war in Ukraine. We have had further input cost inflation and the new concern of availability for some of our key inputs,” he said.
Brendan Golden called on the Minister to act as a matter of urgency to address this issue once and for all.
“The Minister must provide extended repayment facilities for farmers, with no interest charges,” he said.
Brendan Golden said we can see now the full extent of the money being taken from the pockets of suckler and beef farmers. This must be committed as part of further funding for targeted schemes for suckler cows and cattle rearing and finishing farmers.
He said payments for suckler cows must be increased to €300/cow and a cattle rearing and finishing scheme that returns €100/animal must be put in place. These monies taken from farmers will require additional funding for these schemes.
Brendan Golden said the Minister and his officials have had over six months to put in place structures to minimise the impact on farmers. IFA has consistently highlighted these issues to them.
He said all farmers who opted to defer in the scheme must be allowed use whichever reference period works best for them, and Force Majeure cases must be fairly dealt with.