An interview given by Commissioner Phil Hogan on Tuesday’s Newstalk Hard Shoulder programme has outraged the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA). In the interview Commissioner Hogan stated “that he produced the BEAM money for Irish farmers and now they seem reluctant to apply for the money, this will be a bit of an embarrassment for me and weakens the case for future financial support in the event of a hard Brexit”.

In reacting to this statement President of the INHFA Colm O’Donnell stated “Commissioner Hogan is the only one to blame if the money goes back to Brussels. This funding was supposed to be for farmers affected by the market disturbance associated with the uncertainty surrounding Brexit. While the announcement and its timing was seen by some as an election gimmick, whatever the reason it has now backfired and left Irish farmers unable to draw down the €100 million because of conditionality drafted by the EU Commission. This conditionality requires a 5% culling of suckler cows and other cattle destined for Beef finishing in order to comply with the T&C’s of the scheme “.

‘Commissioner Hogan commented at the Irish Rural Link conference in Athlone that if he wanted a farmer in Roscommon with 10 suckler cows to get rid of them because they aren’t profitable, then he must incentivise that farmer to cull them and low and behold what do we get? BEAM.

O’Donnell went on to say how “Commissioner Hogan was prepared to sacrifice produce from sustainable Irish suckler and beef farmers to clear the way for unsustainable South American beef to get his trade deal over the line. So much for the green Jersey”.

Concluding, the farm leader called on the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to amend the BEAM scheme by removing all conditionality and barriers preventing farmers from applying for the scheme which is within his power. INHFA are calling on the Minister to make a public statement to this effect and extend the closing date so that all 70,000 eligible farmers can apply. This will ensure no money is returned to Brussels which might weaken the case for further support in the context of a hard Brexit.