She commented, “Beef and suckler farmers in Cavan-Monaghan have been under massive income pressure since last Autumn as a result of poor factory prices and it is absolutely essential that income support is provided to help address the heavy losses that have been incurred.
“In this regard the €100 million in potential funding allocated to the BEAM Scheme is welcome. However, the Government is failing to deliver a scheme that is fair to farmers and could result in this funding not being fully drawn down.
“The requirement on participating farmers to reduce stocking rates by 5% between July 2020 and June 2021 is unnecessary and should have been resisted by the Government at European level. Their proposed implementation of this requirement as part of the scheme takes no account of a farmers existing circumstances or stocking rate and is entirely arbitrary.
“It will be particularly difficult for farmers who are already lightly stocked to implement and for those with smaller holdings, such as some farmers in Cavan-Monaghan. I believe the Minister should look again at the terms and conditions of the Scheme and at a minimum, exempt holdings with less than 20 suckler cows or already low stocking rates from the stock reduction requirement. He should ensure that the Scheme is made available to all farmers with a beef enterprise and that funding is delivered to farmers promptly.
“I am also concerned that the 5% stock reduction requirement will lead to reduced demand for cattle next year and see a dampening in prices as farmers seek to scale back to meet the 5% threshold during the destocking period. This runs the risk of creating further downward pressure next year on store and suckler prices in particular.
“Minister Creed must look again at the scheme terms and conditions to avoid the full funds not being drawn down. While the €50 million EU funding under the implanting regulation is guaranteed, the fact that any underspend would mean the Government not having to fully follow through on their €50 million allocation will leave many farmers sceptical as to the reason behind the onerous terms and conditions for the scheme.
“The Minister must now act promptly and address concerns regarding the Scheme. He must ensure that the Scheme is made available to all farmers with a beef enterprise and that funding is delivered to farmers promptly,” concluded Deputy Smyth.