There are concerns that farmers who face penalties under the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) scheme may see those penalties applied as deductions to their Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) payment.
The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has said that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine “has moved ahead by deducting monies from other farm schemes”.
Michael Biggins, the association’s rural development chairperson, said farmers who would expect their ANC payment in the coming days “cannot have it deducted”.
“It’s an important payment for farmers who have bills to pay.”
The department is being called on to “move quickly” to address this issue and others in the BEAM scheme.
The IFA has labelled the scheme “a shambles” and claimed that the department’s handling of it “has been disastrous from the outset”.
“BEAM monies were provided to suckler and beef farmers to offset the enourmous losses experienced on their farms arising from Brexit,” said IFA president Tim Cullinan.
He claimed that the department “has put obstacles in the way of farmers receiving the vital supports and in holding onto them”.
Cullinan went on to comment that that department “has further compounded the difficulties for farmers by threatening interest” on money owed back by farmers that missed the bovine manure nitrogen reduction target.
“The lack of detailed up-to-date information for farmers in meeting this requirement; the failure to appropriately recognise the impact of TB restrictions; and the draconian penalties for farmers who just missed out on meeting the reduction, all contributed to this problem.”
Cullinan said that the IFA would be meeting with department officials on the matter. He called on Minister Charlie McConalogue to ensure that there would be an “acceptable resolution to the case”.
Meanwhile, IFA national livestock chairperson Brendan Golden said: “It’s not acceptable to have moved in this way to recoup monies from farmers and the minister must take ownership of this issue”.
The IFA’s comments come the week after a solicitor in Co. Cork said that the scheme could be open to judicial review due to “flaws”.