Commission won't approve state aid without more measures for young and retiring farmers - Hogan


Phil Hogan
Phil Hogan

Martin Ryan

The EU will withhold CAP payments from Ireland and other member states unless new measures to support both young and older farmers are put in place, Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan has warned.

"The member states will not get approval for their plans in the future under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and you will not get your money, unless we have a very ambitious programme put forward by the Irish Government in relation to helping young people into agriculture directly or indirectly," said Commissioner Hogan (pictured).

"It is not acceptable that only 6pc of the European Union's farmers are under 40 years (of age).

"We have no (provision) in the CAP which requires young people to be directly involved on farms or in agri-business and we have to get serious about this," he said.

"I know that the people are better educated now than ever before and they have options other than working in all weathers, which is not exactly what you will strive for when you can have a better quality of life in other areas, but many young people want to be involved in agriculture and we have to provide them with better supports."

And he added that future CAP policy would also require a revamped retirement scheme for older farmers.

"I always thought that 55 years of age was a bit early to be retiring but that is what the farmers were supposed to do a few years ago under the Early Farm Retirement Scheme.

"It made a mockery of the scheme unfortunately and did no good about getting something back.

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"We are trying to do something about getting (a scheme) back that is reasonable and give people an opportunity to get a top -up to retire and give their sons or daughters or heirs the opportunity to get more involved than before."

Mr Hogan was speaking at the presentation of the Paddy Fitzgerald Memorial Community Award in Limerick last weekend.

He said that the late Paddy Fitzgerald, an influential figure in the development of the IFA and marts movement, would "have wanted to know that the next generation were being looked after".

"We have to ensure that they have an income that they can sustain themselves on their farms and we have to do so through direct support, market support and market ­opportunities around the world," he said.

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