The Department of Agriculture has been called on to offer greater flexibility on the reference period for nitrogen reduction under the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) by Independent TD Denis Naughten.

“The Department has now written to farmers participating in BEAM informing them that they can use the existing reference period of July 2020 to June 2021 or an alternatively from January 2021 to December 2021,” the Roscommon–Galway TD said.

“While this flexibility is welcome, it falls short of the type of flexibility that should be provided to participants.”

Naughten suggests that farmers should be deemed compliant if they achieve the 5% nitrogen reduction in any 12-month period between July 2020 and December 2021, rather than being tied to specific dates defined by the Department.

Calculator welcomed

Continuing on the topic of BEAM, Naughten praised Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue for the introduction of an online calculator.

“Not only will it [the calculator] inform BEAM participants as to how much of their target figure they have used, but it will also allow them to predict what changes they need to make to their herd to reach the 5% reduction over any 12-month period," Naughten said.

“The data presented to date to farmers has been misleading because, while they are compliant with the 5% reduction now, they might find themselves in a completely different position next July.”