11 JULY 2019
ICSA president Edmond Phelan has broadly welcomed details on the distribution of the €100 million Beef Brexit aid package following a consultation meeting this morning with Minister Creed and his officials. The scheme is to be called Beef Exceptional Aid Measures – BEAM. Speaking after the meeting Mr Phelan said, “ICSA welcomes the general outline to pay finishers €100/ head and a payment for all suckler cows which calved in 2018.” However, Mr Phelan argued strongly against an upper limit of 100 head for finishers.
“ICSA wants to see an upper limit of 200 head because full time winter finishers have suffered massive losses and it is vital that they are back at the ring for the sake of all suckler and store producers.”
“ICSA argued that it is possible to increase the upper limit to 200 head without affecting the rate of €100/ head simply by explicitly excluding factory feedlots. The reality also is that not every single farmer will apply so this could be done while maintaining the commitment to pay the target rates to finishers and sucklers.”
“ICSA also welcomes the commitment to pay on cull cows finished in a beef herd. The cull suckler cow is a significant part of a suckler income. We have insisted that suckler cows, as well as other fat cattle, sold in a mart and slaughtered shortly afterwards would result in a payment to the farmer who sold in the mart. ICSA also recognises that farmers who specialise in fattening cows are important to the sector and that they have been hit by bad prices.”
ICSA expressed concern around the conditionality on the scheme, specifically the requirements on being a member of a QAS scheme or Agri-environment scheme, as well as the 5% stocking rate reduction for the year 2020-2021.
“Two-thirds of suckler farmers are not quality assured, although some of them will be in BDGP, GLAS or the organic scheme. While it is still possible for them to apply for the BQAS, we are concerned that this will act as a barrier.”
“On the stocking rate the Minister argued that most farmers could qualify by selling animals a month earlier but ICSA believes that this will be hard to achieve in practice and it could have unintended consequences for the trade.”
The following eligibility criteria was outlined by Department of Agriculture;
- Dairy farmers are excluded from the scheme.
- All finished animals over 12 months, to include heifers, steers, bulls and cull cows are eligible.
- A payment of €100/hd for finished cattle is envisaged to a maximum of 100 head of cattle.
- For sucklers, every cow that calved in 2018 will be eligible for a payment of €40/hd to a maximum of 40 cows.
In addition, conditionality measures will apply.
- A 5% reduction in stocking rate in 2021 compared to 2019. The reference period for this will run from July 2018 to June 2019 (inclusive) to be compared with July 2020 to June 2021 (inclusive).
- At the time of application, or before payment, those wishing to avail of the aid must be enrolled in an agri-environment scheme (e.g. GLAS/BDPG/Organic Scheme etc.) or be Bord Bia quality assured.