According to Minister McConalogue, almost 22,000 of 33,000 BEAM scheme participants met the commitments and exited its “successfully”.
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine provided clarification to deputy Jackie Cahill, who asked him to provide, by means of a series of parliamentary questions, data regarding the scheme in 2019 and 2020.
Deputy Cahill asked Minister McConalogue to clarify:
- The number of farmers who applied for the BEAM scheme;
- Also, the number of farmers that received full payment from the BEAM scheme;
- The number of farmers that suffered penalties;
- The monetary amount farmers were penalised;
- The breakdown in % terms of penalties the DAFM applied.
The objective of the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) was to provide temporary exceptional adjustment aid to farmers in the beef sector in Ireland.
Under the scheme, the DAFM paid aid on adult cattle slaughtered between September 24th, 2018, and May 12th, 2019, at a rate of €100 per animal subject to a maximum of 100 finished animals per herd.
Furthermore, it also paid aid on suckler cows that calved in 2018. It issued a payment rate of €40/animal, subject to a maximum of 40 sucklers per herd.
The DAFM confirmed that in December 2019, it commenced issuing payments under BEAM to the tune of €77.86m to 33,478 participants under the scheme.
In applying for BEAM, participants agreed to reduce the production of bovine livestock manure nitrogen on their holding by 5% for the period July 1st, 2020 to June 30th, 2021 as compared with the period July 1st, 2018 to June 30th, 2019.
The minister confirmed that there was a “significant” cohort of eligible farmers that chose not to apply to the scheme, on the basis they did not want to comply with the conditions.
Following engagement with the EU Commission regarding flexibility around the deadline for meeting the 5% reduction, McConalogue introduced an option for farmers to choose an alternative reduction period.
End of original reduction period
Some 16,000 farmers opted for this deferred reduction period before applications for deferment closed on June 21st, 2021.
In September 2021, following the ending of the original reduction period on June 30th, 2021, the DAFM identified that some 19,000 participants had met the scheme commitments. Therefore, they exited the scheme “successfully” without recoupment.
According to the DAFM, approximately 5,300 of the 16,000, who opted to defer subsequently met all their BEAM commitments within the allotted timeframe. This included the 5% bovine nitrates reduction in the original reduction period.
As a result, the DAFM removed them from the later reduction period.
Meanwhile, further 3,627 participants had not opted to defer did not meet some or all of the scheme commitments.
The DAFM revealed that the total value of these overpayments amounted to €5,277,820. €3,377,804.80 returned to the EU, and €1,900,015.20 returned to the exchequer in line with the ratio under which they were initially paid.
A total of 234 of the 3,627 participants recorded a nitrates reduction of between 4% and 5%. This resulted in between 20% and 80% recoupment.
According to McConalogue, the total value of these partial recoupments stood at €168,560.
10,300 in deferred reduction period
This left approximately 10,300 BEAM scheme participants in the deferred reduction period.
In March 2022, following the ending of the deferred reduction period on December 31st, 2021, the DAFM identified just over 2,800 had met their scheme commitments. They then exited the scheme successfully.
This left 7,470 participants, who did not meet some or all of the scheme commitments necessary, to avoid a recoupment of some or all of their payments under the scheme.
The total value of these recoupments was €12,596,536. €8,061,783.04 was returned to the EU, and the remaining €4,534,752.96 was returned to the exchequer.
According to the DAFM, 282 of the 7,470 participants recorded a nitrates reduction of between 4% and 5%.
This resulted in between 20% and 80% recoupment as provided in the scheme’s terms and conditions.
In turn, the total value of these partial recoupments was €287,976.