Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has welcomed a decision by the European Commission to allow Ireland the flexibility to set a new reduction period under the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM).
Minister McConalogue recently wrote to the Commission, seeking flexibility to offer farmers the choice of changing the reduction year from the existing period of 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021 to a new period of 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2021.
The new reduction period will only apply to those farmers who opt to apply for the change. Those farmers currently on track to meet the 5% nitrogen reduction targets can use the original reference period ending 30 June.
The option of a new reduction period now gives those farmers who want it a second opportunity to meet the nitrogen reduction requirement
Commenting on the Commission’s decision, Minister McConalogue said: “I welcome the decision by the European Commission to allow Ireland to amend the reduction period under the BEAM scheme for those who require it. As the European Commission is a significant funder of BEAM, it was critical that they were consulted on Ireland’s proposed change.
“This was a key priority of mine since taking office as I understood the challenge some farmers had in meeting the 5% nitrogen reduction element of BEAM.
“The option of a new reduction period now gives those farmers who want it a second opportunity to meet the nitrogen reduction requirement of the scheme.”
Updated nitrogen figures
The minister said he will be engaging with farm organisations and agricultural consultants to ensure farmers are fully informed of the requirements of the scheme and the new reduction period.
“My Department will be writing to all of the scheme participants shortly giving updated nitrogen figures to clearly inform them of what they need to do meet the requirements of the scheme and will also be giving advice on how and when they can opt to change the reduction year,” he said.
“I was extremely concerned about the outcome facing many farmers under the current reduction period and the Department will be sending out further monthly updates and advice to help them make informed decisions concerning the scheme,” Minister McConalogue said.