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Source: Sinn Féin

17 November, 2020 – by Chris MacManus MEP

 MacManus demands BEAM scheme participants get the support they need
Sinn Féin’s Chris MacManus, MEP and member of the European Parliament Agricultural Committee, is demanding the Department of Agriculture reach out to BEAM scheme participants. MacManus’ comments came in response to widespread confusion from scheme participants, if they are on course to meet the 5% nitrates reduction target. 
MacManus said:“The €100m Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) was established to support farmers who were facing spiralling losses, due to a slash in the prices they were being offered for stock. However, from the start, this scheme has been a nightmare for many farmers.
“At the last minute, a decision was made to include a 5% nitrates reduction as part of the conditionality. In reality, this meant herd reductions by the back door. The European Commission and Irish Government pointed the finger at each other as to who was responsible. And we are now dealing with the out workings of this shambles. 
“Any farmer who fails to meet the 5% herd reduction will be penalised 100% of the money they received, meaning some farmers could be asked to pay back between €5,000 and €10,000. Understandably, this is causing significant anxiety among participants, who are unsure exactly where they stand. 
“In September, the Minister said he would ensure all farmers were given the appropriate data to see if they are on track. Data was provided but in a format which, many farmers feel, is unclear.”
The Midlands Northwest MEP said the debacle could have been avoided, “Our farming community have endured a particularly difficult 2020, due to a number of factors such as Brexit and COVID 19. This is one extra headache that could be avoided very easy if the Department got its act together and engaged with participants appropriately.”
“If this does not happen, trade flows will be heavily disrupted, as farmers scramble to sell stock before the end of the scheme. Resulting in a severe depression in the prices being offered.”“Sinn Féin sees the complexity and mounting conditionality associated with these support schemes as one if the main drivers that reduces participation and foments distrust of the Department’s ability to deliver for farmers.”
MacManus concluded by stating simplification was key, “Sinn Féin believes workability and simplification are central to being a partner of our farming community, as we endeavour to preserve the future of rural Ireland.” ENDS

MIL OSI United Kingdom