Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers' Association (ICSA) beef chair Edmund Graham has called on the Department of Agriculture to individually assess the case of each farmer in receipt of an "associated herd" letter under the BEAM scheme.

“It is unfair to throw a curve ball in at the 11th hour, making it virtually impossible for farmers to rectify their stocking rates with less than a month to go,” said Graham.

“One thousand farmers have got letters and it is likely that almost half of them are potentially facing a BEAM penalty, he continued.

The comments come in response to the unexpected Department correspondence received by 1,000 BEAM farmers last week.

Unclear requirements

“Some of these farmers – who thought they were on target to meet the requirements of the scheme – have now been left in an impossible situation,” the ICSA beef chair continued.

“If this has been the case, why then have nitrates figures not been supplied all along for associated herds?

"At least then, farmers would have been in possession of all the relevant information and been able to act accordingly.

“The lack of timely and accurate figures throughout the scheme has been very problematic.

“I am urging Minister McConalogue and his Department officials to look carefully at each case before they deny payment to any farmer," commented Graham.