Following a meeting with senior officials in the Department of Agriculture in Portlaoise today, IFA National Rural Development Chairman Flor McCarthy said it is very important that allocations from the National Reserve are made in a fair way, taking account of the requirements of new entrants and young farmers and are also reflective of existing entitlements at farm level.
The new National Reserve and Young Farmer top up schemes will open for applicants from January 5th 2015.
Flor McCarthy said under the New CAP Reform from 2015, a national reserve has been established using 3% of the basic payment ceiling amounting to €25m for priority allocation to New Entrants and Young Farmers.
The IFA man said at today’s meeting the Department of Agriculture confirmed to IFA that young farmers or new entrants who commence an educational course by September 2016 will suffice in meeting the educational requirement under the scheme in order to enable them apply for the 2015 scheme by May next year. He said this is a very important flexibility particularly considering the difficultly potential applicants are having in trying to get on to an educational course. The Department pointed out that applicants will have 36 months to complete the educational requirements to FETAC level 6 or equivalent.
Flor McCarthy said the Department also confirmed to IFA that the off-farm income limit condition for new entrants will be increased to €40,000 pa, based on either of the 2 previous years, whichever is the most suitable.
The IFA man said the value of entitlements allocated from the national reserve will be based on the national average payment (€250/ha. including greening). The number of entitlements will be based on the number of eligible hectares declared up to a maximum of 90 for new entrants.
Flor McCarthy said young farmers who qualify for an allocation of entitlements from the national reserve can also benefit from the separate young farmers’ payment amounting to 25% of the national average payment per hectare (€64/ha), for a maximum period of 5 years based on the number of activated entitlements up to a maximum of 50 ha.
The IFA Rural Development Chairman said IFA has also made a strong case to the Department of Agriculture that the so called ‘old young farmers’, or farmers who are under 40 years of age and farming for more than 5 years, must also be accommodated from the national reserve. The Department indicated they will include this group as an additional category when they submit additional details to the Commission next January.
In addition, Flor McCarthy said the Department must also look at additional categories to cover farmers with specific disadvantages and force majeure or exceptional circumstances.
The IFA man said all applications must be made on line with accompanying/supporting documentation and applications will open in the week commencing Jan 5th 2015.
Flor McCarthy said farmers have encountered substantial cuts to their entitlements to create a worthwhile national reserve and young farmers’ scheme. He said it is important that allocations are made by the Department in a fair way to deserving applicants. In addition he said IFA will be pushing for additional measures under the Rural Development Programme for young farmers.