There should be maximum flexibility and choice for farmers in selecting which BEAM deadline they wish to comply with, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) has said.
The European Commission has confirmed the responsibility for changing the reference dates for the 5% reduction lies with the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue. This has paved the way for the Minister to offer an alternative 31 December deadline.
ICSA beef chair Edmund Graham said: “The Department must allow farmers to choose which deadline they want [June 30 or December 31] and farmers need to be facilitated in making that choice at any stage up to and after June 30.”
The ICSA also met with Department officials this week to press for accurate and timely information to be supplied to farmers, to allow them judge their current position.
Graham stressed that farmers should not be pressurised into making a decision in the short term. Given the delays in getting accurate information to farmers, it is not acceptable that they will be required to make a decision too soon, he added.
Graham called for farmers to be given the option of trying to meet the June deadline, and if that doesn’t succeed, the December deadline should be available as an alternative.
“The reality is that monthly nitrates figures are being issued with at least a five week delay. Therefore, many farmers will not even know if they have met the target until the first week in August,” the beef chair said.
“It is ludicrous for farmers to be expected to decide on which period they want to be assessed on, without knowing where they stand.”