New rule limits access to National Reserve
Young farmers will be unable to access the €5m National Reserve Fund scheme for 2017 until they have "college certs in hand", Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice has warned.
The Roscommon-Galway TD is calling on the Government and farm organisations to "come clean" on educational criteria needed to access the scheme funded by a linear cut to the value of all Basic Payment Scheme entitlements.
Speaking to the Farming Independent, Mr Fitzmaurice raised concerns on how changes in eligibility means many young farmers will "not be accomodated" under the highly anticipated scheme, set to open at the end of the month.
"New rules state that a young farmer must have a "cert in hand" to qualify and that situation has very serious implications.
"Teagasc and the colleges are just catching up on the backlog of farmers that wanted to do courses from 2015," he said.
The Department of Agriculture confirmed that in order to qualify for the 2017 National Reserve successful applicants must have completed their agricultural education course by May 15, 2017.
"An exception was made under the education criteria of the 2015 National Reserve which allowed students to qualify before completion of their agricultural course. However, this exception did not receive the approval of the EU Commission," a Department spokesperson said.
Mr Fitzmaurice described the alteration as "totally unacceptable".