The latest figures available from the Department of Agriculture show that up to 14,000 participants in the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) are at risk of receiving penalties if they do not take action.

There are currently 14,000 herds who are set to miss the 5% bovine nitrates reduction requirement based on the original timeframe of 1 June 2020 to 30 June 2021.

Of these farms, 10,700 have actually increased their nitrates output.

A significant cohort of these farmers are likely to be included in the 6,000 farmers who have opted to defer their reduction period to 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2021, but it still leaves high numbers of participating farmers at risk.

18,500 herds are currently compliant, with another 1,000 between 4% and 5% of the required reduction.

Minister Charlie McConalogue released a statement this week reminding farmers that if they wish to defer the reduction period, they must do so by the closing date of Monday 21 June 2021.

Insurance policy

The minister is encouraging any farmer who has any doubt about meeting the reduction period to opt to defer as the Department of Agriculture will not hold a farmer to the later period if they satisfy the original timeline target.

“Farmers need to take a proactive approach to avoid facing penalties. If a farmer considers they cannot meet the 5% reduction requirement by 30 June 2021, they should opt to defer and choose the later 12 month reduction period of 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2021.

“If farmers opt to defer but subsequently meet the 5% reduction requirement in the original reduction period (1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021), the Department will advise them that they are being removed from the later reduction period, unless they notify the Department otherwise.”

Payment potentials

No other aspects of the scheme change non-compliance with the reduction requirement will result in a clawback of monies paid. There is a slight allowance in this regard for farmers who reduce their bovine nitrates output by between 4% and 5% with the penalty schedule as follows.

  • Less than 4% reduction: 100% penalty.
  • Less than 4.4% reduction: 80% penalty.
  • Reduction of 4.4% or more but less than 4.6%: 60% penalty.
  • Reduction of 4.6% or more but less than 4.8%: 40% penalty.
  • Reduction of 4.8% or more but less than 5%: 20% penalty.
  • Nitrates calculator

    Minister McConalogue also reminded farmers that the Department’s BEAM Nitrates Calculator is available on and is being updated on a monthly basis.

    “Participants should utilise the range of tools available including the monthly letter to each BEAM participant outlining their individual progress to date on achieving the 5% reduction and engage with their agricultural adviser if necessary.”

    The latest information available on the Department website covers the period 1 July 2020 to 31 March 2021. The calculator is based on all animals on a holding on 1 April 2021.

    While it takes into account animals moving into different age categories, it does not account for movements in and out of the herd or birth registrations.

    Accessing the deferral option

  • Select the Exceptional Aid Measures heading on the home screen.
  • On the next screen click on ‘select scheme to enter’ on the top left.
  • This will then give you two options to select on the Beef Finisher Payment or BEAM.
  • On the next BEAM window you must click on the small circle on the left under the heading ‘select application type’. This is the step which seems to be catching out many applicants.
  • This will then bring you through to the window where you can opt to select the option ‘Defer 5% Nitrates Reduction’. Once an application has been submitted, it will state this on the screen.