Farmers must be given an exemption to the 5% organic bovine nitrogen reduction clause included in the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM), according to the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA).
INHFA president Colm O’Donnell called on Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to "act quickly and decisively”, with farmers facing a clawback of up to €40m from the scheme.
O'Donnell insisted the only option available was to seek a derogation from the EU Commission.
“The justification for this derogation can be based on the COVID-19 restrictions,” O’Donnell said.
“These are impacting heavily on farmers' ability to trade stock, especially those trading weanlings and store cattle.”
O’Donnell has also sought clarity from the Minister on an opening date for the third iteration of the Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP). He said the scheme needs to be opened soon to ensure cow and calf pairings born since 1 July 2020 are included.
“Some of these calves are up to seven months of age and there is a need to get them weighed prior to weaning. In addition to this, time is also running out for farmers that choose the meal feeding option for pre- and post-weaning,” O’Donnell explained.
O'Donnell maintains the popularity of the scheme was due to the inclusion of proper stakeholder consultation in its design.
Going forward, he said he hoped that future schemes would involve similar consultation with farming organisations “in what can be a win-win for both the Department and farmers”.