Farmers must wait until August to assess whether they have met the 5% bovine nitrates reduction requirement set out under the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM).
While the original reduction period of 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021 has ended, bovine numbers up to 30 June will not be available until early August, according to the Department of Agriculture.
“It is only at that point that the number of BEAM participants who have met the 5% bovine livestock manure nitrates requirement can be established,” a Department spokesperson told the Irish Farmers Journal.
Over 33,000 farmers have availed of €78m in supports from the BEAM fund.
Analysis of farmers in the scheme using data up to 30 April 2021 and projected nitrates for May and June indicates that just over 18,700 are on track to meet the 5% reduction target.
A total of 16,000 farmers have applied for an option to defer their reduction period.
The deferment option was introduced earlier this year that allows farmers to opt into a new reduction reference period of 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2021.
Some 160 farmers opted to withdraw from BEAM after receiving payment, while 861 farmers withdrew from the scheme before receiving any payment.
Farmers who fail to reduce their nitrates by at least 4% face a 100% penalty, while there are graded penalties for reductions between 4% and 5%.
Those farmers who opted for the deferred reference period will not face any penalties for missing the 30 June 2021 reduction deadline.
Anyone who had any doubt of meeting the original reduction timeframe was urged to opt for the deferral period.
If a herd ends up complying with the original reduction period, it will be withdrawn from the new reference period.