12 MARCH 2021
ICSA beef chair Edmund Graham has said a discrepancy between how the Department of Agriculture is calculating nitrates figures – versus the way farmers are compiling them – could cause significant problems for BEAM Scheme participants. “ICSA understands that while farmers have been led to believe that nitrates figures are calculated on a daily basis by the Department, this is not actually the case,” he said.
Mr Graham said the Department have been calculating figures by selecting one date per calendar month, and extrapolating the figure given to farmers from that one day. “This has never been communicated to farmers who might assume it’s a daily calculation. As such, the two sets of figures will likely never match.”
“We know that thousands of farmers are struggling to meet the 5% target and this uncertainty in how the figures are being calculated will only serve to exacerbate the myriad of difficulties there are with the scheme.”
“It is beyond comprehension that the Department should tell farmers that the onus is on them to calculate their figures but did not advise them on what method to use. The result is that with different methods being used, different results are being produced. The Department will no doubt insist their own figures are the right ones, so where does that leave farmers?”
“Moreover, is our understanding that Teagasc advisors and private advisors have been blindsided by this revelation also. This further compounds the problem that the Department can only provide figures six weeks in arrears. So a farmer doesn’t even have up to date figures when it comes to trying to meet the 5% target.”
“It again demonstrates that the Department will be on very shaky ground if it tries to impose severe penalties on farmers who miss the 5% target especially if the margin is tight.”