Green Cert fees hike on the cards
The Revenue Commissioners are demanding Teagasc makes major changes to its certificate in agriculture course if it wants students to keep the stamp duty exemption for farm transfers.
The shock news emerged when a review of the course, formerly known as the 'Green Cert', found that the current one-year duration of the certificate did not meet FETAC Level 6 criteria, as required by Revenue to qualify for the tax exemption.
For the Green Cert course to meet Revenue criteria, it would require a two-year study period at an approved agricultural college, or up to three-and-a-half years on the alternative 'contract' training course.
This represents a doubling of the current duration under both routes.
It has been confirmed that the annual fee for the current certificate in agriculture course is €2,000 plus about €150 for textbooks and any increase in the course length would inevitably result in a significant hike in costs for students.
Paddy Browne, head of education with Teagasc, said the agency was considering offering a new course, which would not involve extending the duration, in the hope that it would get Revenue approval.
"If the course is to be extended along the proposed lines, there will also have to be a reduction in the number of entrants each year, because we haven't got the staff to cope," Mr Browne said.