Deputy Denis Naughten has called for the current rules on stocking rates for the ANC and BEAM schemes to be eased due to the Covid-19 restrictions impacting on farmers and marts.
“The effective shut down of marts means this is now causing problems for farmers who are close to stocking rate limits,” Deputy Naughten explained.
“Many farmers who availed on Area of Natural Constraints payments (ANC ) in disadvantaged areas and bought cattle in the spring to graze land are now caught up in the Covid-19 restrictions. Many of them may fall foul of the stocking rate and be deemed ineligible for their vital ANC payment at the end of the year.
“There is also a problem about to arise for farmers in the BEAM scheme who are obliged to reduce the production of bovine livestock manure nitrogen per herd by five per cent for a target period, which is July 1 2020 to June 30 2021; compared to a reference period of July 1 2018 to June 30 2019.
“This period is about to kick in and we do not want a situation where farmers are forced to sell stock in an already depressed market to be eligible for a support which was to replace income as a result of depressed prices last spring.
“We need to see flexibility across the board from the Department of Agriculture to the specific and unique challenges being faced by farmers as a result of Covid-19,” he warned. “We need clarity on many of these issues now, not hold ups in vital farm payments later in the year.”