“For example, entitlements were granted up to a ceiling of 90 hectares which ICSA now believes is just too high when we have deserving cases excluded totally. Also, the concession which allowed applications from people who had not even started their agricultural education is entirely illogical and it represented a departure from the long standing requirement for other similar schemes which insisted that agricultural education should be completed first. Finally, ICSA would have concerns that the terms around short term renting of land and the lack of a five year use it or lose it clause are just too slack. We have to be able to reassure older farmers that the National Reserve is carefully managed for the benefit of committed farmers only.”
ICSA has been campaigning for this group since early 2015 and brought the issue to the Oireachtas Agriculture committee. The 2013 CAP reform provided for a 3% deduction from the Basic Payment (plus greening) for the National Reserve along with a further 2% for the Young Farmers’ top-up. However, the rules on National Reserve originally only allowed those who had started farming in the previous five years to be deemed eligible as young farmers. A concession was then granted to allow farmers who started farming back in 2008 to also qualify.
The group that became known as the forgotten farmers were another cohort of young farmers under 40 who were farming going right back to the reference years of 2000/02 who fell outside the original category and didn’t get any payments established for future years. The Department of Agriculture estimated there is up to 3,900 of those who fell outside the category.
The ICSA would like to acknowledge the support of the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture and Minister Denis Naughten for all their support and also the efforts of Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice in getting the issue into the programme for Government.
“ICSA felt it was of the utmost importance to right this injustice to this group of young farmers. We need young people entering the industry. Young farmers are the life blood of any industry and if they are not supported with a share of EU payments they will not be able to stay in farming and in turn the whole industry suffers and so does our rural economy and indeed the wider community. It will also have a knock on effect for jobs and for exports.”
It may be too late to include this group for payments in 2016 as the May 16th deadline approaches for submissions to the Basic Payment Scheme. This group should also now qualify for the 60% TAMS grants as well. ICSA will be pushing for adequate compensation for this group to look for equal treatment similar to the original group of young farmers.”