Farmers have been shocked to find that money owed on the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) has been reclaimed by the Department of Agriculture before the 30-day repayment time has elapsed.
Several farmers contacted the Irish Farmers Journal on Tuesday 14 September, to say that their BEAM repayment has been taken directly from their Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) and TAMS grant.
They were unaware that the money would be clawed back in this manner, before the 30-day repayment deadline passed.
While ANC payments are not yet in farmers’ bank accounts, transactions are showing on farmers' agfood.ie accounts.
The BEAM repayment has already been a bone of contention, with farmers angry that the Department intends to impose a 3% interest rate on any money not repaid within the 30-day repayment period set out by the Department.
Almost 4,000 farmers face a BEAM clawback as a result of not complying with one of the criteria specified under the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) scheme.
Farmers who did not submit a BPS application in any or all of the years 2019, 2020 and 2021, who didn’t join the Bord Bia Quality Assurance scheme or participate in BDGP, BEEP, the organic farming scheme or GLAS or farmers who failed to reduce the number of bovine nitrogen will receive a penalty ranging from €40 to €11,600 per farm.
While the total penalty amount that these farmers will face is not yet known, the average payment under the scheme was €2,265, so the Department of Agriculture could be seeking to claw back over €8m of the €77m that was paid out, from these participants who failed to comply with the scheme requirements.
Right to appeal
Farmers had the right to appeal the BEAM clawback, outlined in the letter each farmer received detailing his/her clawback. However it appears to farmers that the Department has jumped the gun on the appeals process.
The Irish Farmers Journal has contacted the Department of Agriculture for comment on the matter.