The IFA has expressed that the DAFM’s latest move to claw back BEAM money from participant’s ANC payments has “infuriated” farmers.
The farm group met senior DAFM officals yesterday (Thursday, September 17th) to seek “urgent” changes to their approach to the BEAM scheme.
BEAM money clawback
IFA livestock chairman, Brendan Golden, said all monies the DAFM deducted from farmers must be repaid immediately.
“The letter of apology must be accompanied by a cheque. It is not acceptable that ANC money was taken from farmers, who would have earmarked this for contractors’ bills and school and college fees,” he added.
“The handling of the scheme from the start has been a bureaucratic disaster,” he added.
“While farmers, who could not meet the conditions understood the implications, it was no excuse for the way the dept dealt with the issue. The 5% reduction should never have been part of the scheme.”
“The farmers who had monies taken from them by the Department of Agriculture are suckler and beef farmers.”
He said they are the most dependent on direct payments for their income, farming in ANC areas.
The livestock chairman said the DAFM must give farmers the option of an extended repayment period and remove interest charges.
“Farmers who had opted for the new reference period must be allowed to choose the better of the two reference periods at the end of the scheme.”
He said the DAFM and minister can ”recover ground here by doing the right thing, even at this late stage”.
He said the DAFM must maximise using the flexibilities minister secured from the Commission earlier this year.
Issues with BEAM
Tim Cullinan said that since the DAFM committed the monies, it has put obstacles in the way of farmers receiving the vital supports and holding onto them.
The farm group highlighted the following have all contributed to the issue:
- Firstly, a lack of detailed, up-to-date information for farmers in meeting this requirement;
- Also, the failure to appropriately recognise the impact of TB restrictions on farmers trying to meet the 5% reduction;
- Lastly, the “draconian” penalties for farmers who just missed the 5% reduction all contributed to the problem.