Irish beef scaleback deal raises BSP hopes

BEEF PRODUCERS could be in line for a helpful boost to their last beef special premium payments, if a special deal won by the Irish to offset their scalebacks is extended to the UK.

Market managers in Brussels were due to sign off the e17.5m (£12m) Irish package at their meeting yesterday (Thursday). But as FW went to press on Wednesday (July 27) it was being suggested that the UK should also benefit.

It is understood that to qualify for the compensation a member state must have exceeded its national ceiling for BSP claims in 2004 and must have introduced full decoupling this year.

“The only two member states that meet these criteria are Ireland and the UK,” said a spokesman for the NFU, which has written to junior DEFRA minister Lord Bach demanding equal treatment.

“If anything, our case is stronger since we suffered a 30% scaleback, whereas Ireland only had 23%.”

Ulster Farmers’ Union president Campbell Tweed pointed out that the scaleback had cost Northern Ireland livestock farmers £12m. “It’s very important that producers are treated with parity,” he said.

Under the terms of the Irish deal, some e17.5m (£12m) is being returned to beef producers who overshot their claims last year, though only in respect of their second claims on over-20-month steers.

As a result, some 25,000 Irish farmers will see their 23% scalebacks halved, with about half the money coming from Brussels and half from the Irish government.

Equivalent treatment for the UK would see the £36m second age scaleback cut to around £18m.