The BEAM cattle nitrogen target is a rolling figure, the 5% reduction does not need to be met by July 1, 2020, but can be averaged out over the following 12 months, advises Teagasc.
According to Patricia Lynch, drystock adviser, Teagasc, Westport, Co Mayo: “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%.”
For example, if a farmer in BEAM had 50 one to two-year-old cattle with a total organic nitrogen figure of 2,850kg for the 2018/2019 reference period (July 1 to June 30), the 5% reduction needed between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021, is 143kg of nitrogen.
This farmer must reduce by three one to two-year-old cattle, giving a reduction of 171kg of nitrogen.
So the farmer will have an average of 47 for the 2020/21 period, instead of 50.
The department is using livestock nitrogen figures of 65kg for a suckler cow; 24kg for up to one-year-old; 57kg for one to two-year-old; and 65kg for over two years old.
Other options such as earlier selling of cattle (for example, selling weanlings at seven months instead of 10-12 months, or buying younger cattle such as weanlings instead of store cattle) may be very helpful in meeting requirements.
Some farmers may opt for reduced cattle numbers over the winter or for a period of the winter, to meet the BEAM requirements, and to reduce workload.
Farmers should be very conscious of their commitments to other schemes such as BDGP, BEEP-S, ANC, and factor these into their decision making.
Reducing sheep numbers or acquiring extra land will not be counted as part of the reduction.
Failure to comply with the BEAM scheme requirements will mean a claw-back of monies paid in the following year’s direct payments.
Farmers should talk to their advisor and plan what numbers of cows, calves, yearlings, etc, they will have for the next 12 months.