The IFA president Tim Cullinan has called the potential clawback of monies paid to farmers under BEAM as “flawed”.

Cullinan said the organisation had held a constructive and frank meeting with Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue and his officials on the subject of the 5% nitrogen reduction requirement on Monday.

“There are 18,000 farmers currently not achieving the reduction, which could see these farmers having to hand back as much as €40m out of €77m in the scheme,” he said.

'Flawed requirement'

“This was a flawed requirement in the first instance and the COVID-19 controls have made the situation far worse, with marts curtailed and farmers unable to engage as normal with their advisers. This must be recognised.”

IFA livestock vice-chair Declan Hanrahan said a situation had emerged where farmers had signed up to the scheme in good faith, but due to extreme circumstances impacting trade such as Brexit and COVID-19, farmers could now not meeting the requirements.

Sheep Welfare Scheme

In a separate statement, the IFA also called for the Minister for Agriculture to provide all farmers in the Sheep Welfare Scheme with the opportunity to update their reference numbers.

IFA sheep chair Sean Dennehy said that the move was needed because sheep numbers on farms had increased.

Dennehy said that progressive sheep farmers who had increased numbers were now being penalised under the scheme.