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BEAM Scheme Requirements - Don’t get penalised!!

Patricia Lynch, Drystock Advisor, Teagasc Westport Close to €80 million was paid to just under 33,000 Irish beef farmers in 2019 under the BEAM scheme. This aid was paid to help compensate farmers for the drop off in beef prices during the period September 2018 to May 2019.

As part of the scheme farmers must now reduce their Organic Bovine (cattle) Nitrogen by 5% for the next 12 months compared to the reference period of July 1st 2018- June 30th 2019. Effectively what this means is a cut in stocking rate.  Mayo farmers in BEAM received an average payment of €1,318 last December for their commitment to this 5% reduction. Failure to comply with the scheme requirements will mean a claw back of monies paid in the following years’ direct payments.

Applicants will have recently received a letter from the DAFM outlining their individual 5% reduction target. What farmers must do now is talk to their advisor and plan ahead what numbers of stock they will have for the next 12 months across various stock categories – cows, calves, yearlings, etc., to ensure they reduce by the required amount.

A few key points to remember is, that this target is a rolling figure and the 5% reduction does not need to be met by the 1st of July 2020 but can be averaged out over the following 12 months. Reducing your sheep numbers or requiring extra land will not be counted as part of the reduction. The most common issue we see raised, is by the farmer who was more lowly stocked during the 2018/2019 reference period and has significantly increased stock levels for 2020 thus the reduction necessary will be substantially greater than the 5%.  

Outlined below is an example of a typical farmer in BEAM

A farmer has 50 (1 – 2 year olds) cattle with a total organic nitrogen figure of 2,850 Kgs for the reference period 1/7/18 – 30/6/19.  This farmer now needs a 5% reduction to occur between 1/7/2020 and 30/6/2021 which is 143Kgs of nitrogen.

This farmer must reduce by 3 (1- 2 year olds) cattle giving a reduction of 171Kgs of nitrogen. So the farmer will have an average 47 (1 – 2 year olds) instead of 50 for the period between 1/7/2020 and 30/06/2021 respectively.

The Department are using the following livestock nitrogen figures:

Suckler Cow    65Kgs Nitrogen
0 – 1 year old  24Kgs Nitrogen
1 – 2 year old  57 Kgs Nitrogen
>2 year old      65Kgs Nitrogen

Other options such as the earlier selling of cattle e.g. selling weanlings at 7 months of age instead of 10-12 months of age or indeed the purchase of younger cattle such as weanlings instead of store cattle may be very helpful in meeting requirements.

Some farmers may even opt for reduced cattle numbers over the winter months or for a period of the winter to meet the requirements and also reduce workload.

Farmers should also be very conscious of their commitments to other schemes such as BDGP, BEEP-S and the ANC and factor these into their decision making.

To help farmers have a better understanding of BEAM and to answer any questions you may have, Teagasc will hold a live webinar on Wednesday July 15th @ 6:30pm hosted by Aidan Murray, Teagasc Beef Specialist and guests. You can join by registering for free at https://www.teagasc.ie/corporate-events/lets-talk-cattle--sheep/#d.en.85621