The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers' Association (ICSA) president Edmond Phelan has broadly welcomed the details of the Beef Exceptional Aid Measures (BEAM) scheme.

After meeting Minister Creed and his officials, Phelan said he welcomed the general outline to pay finishers €100/head and a payment for all suckler cows which calved in 2018.

However, he called for an increase in the upper limit from 100 to 200 head.

“Full-time winter finishers have suffered massive losses and it is vital that they are back at the ring for the sake of all suckler and store producers,” he said.

“ICSA argued that it is possible to increase the upper limit to 200 head without affecting the rate of €100/head simply by explicitly excluding factory feedlots.

“The reality also is that not every single farmer will apply so this could be done while maintaining the commitment to pay the target rates to finishers and sucklers.”

Cull cows

He also welcomed the commitment to pay on cull cows finished in a beef herd.

“The cull suckler cow is a significant part of a suckler income. We have insisted that suckler cows, as well as other fat cattle, sold in a mart and slaughtered shortly afterwards would result in a payment to the farmer who sold in the mart.

“ICSA also recognises that farmers who specialise in fattening cows are important to the sector and that they have been hit by bad prices.”

Two-thirds of suckler farmers are not quality assured

He raised some concern about the requirement to be member of a quality assurance (QA) scheme or agri-environment scheme, as well as the 5% stocking rate reduction for the year 2020-2021.

Phelan pointed out: "Two-thirds of suckler farmers are not quality assured, although some of them will be in BDGP, GLAS or the organic scheme. While it is still possible for them to apply for the BQAS, we are concerned that this will act as a barrier.”

“On the stocking rate the minister argued that most farmers could qualify by selling animals a month earlier, but ICSA believes that this will be hard to achieve in practice and it could have unintended consequences for the trade,” argued Phelan.

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