Farmers participating in the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) will receive updated figures to cover January and February 2021 before the end of the month.

These figures will provide farmers with an up-to-date accurate picture of where their herd currently lies with regards to meeting the mandatory 5% reduction in organic nitrogen levels.

This information will also be vital in farmers deciding if they should apply for the allowance to change the time frame for achieving the 5% reduction from the current period of 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021 to the new time frame of 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2021.

Insurance policy

A Department official advised that where farmers were in doubt about meeting the 5% reduction target, then they should apply for the reduction year time frame change as an insurance policy.

The official said that where farmers meet the original deadline, that will be taken as adhering to the reduction target.

However, if farmers fail to apply and miss the target then they will not have the option at this stage to opt for the reduction year change.

Applications and information regarding the reduction year change will be circulated to participants in the coming weeks.

Calculation of figures

There have been reports in recent weeks insinuating that the calculation of BEAM nitrates figures works on the premise of the average number of animals on the farm at a given time in each month.

The Department has clarified that this is not the case. It stated that the figure is calculated on a daily basis and not an average figure.

The Department's BEAM nitrates calculator works on the premise of an average figure for the months in advance and that this calculator is an aid to allow farmers to plan accordingly.

Questions were also raised as to which figures farmers should abide by - the figures on the BEAM nitrates portal on or the figure stated in nitrogen and phosphorus calculations, as there is a marginal difference between them.

The Department says the only figures applicable to the BEAM scheme is the BEAM figures.

It adds that this is why there is a four- to five-week delay in extracting data, as it allows for calf birth registrations, etc, to be processed and provides the most up-to-date and accurate data possible.

TB herds

There is also a high volume of questions arising relating to whether there is any change in rules for TB-restricted herds.

Those affected by TB will be glad to hear that anyone who has been restricted during the BEAM reduction period that their herd will have their reduction requirement reduced in line with the length of time they were restricted for.

The Department will be writing to affected herds in the coming weeks outlining the options available.