'Old' farmers taking SFP case to EU Commission
The 'Young Old Farmers' pressure group, which is campaigning to correct Single Farm Payment (SFP) anomalies, look set to take their case to the European Commission.
The pressure group, whose members are mainly in their 30s, are receiving direct payments based on reference years in the early 2000s when they began farming and though they have expanded their enterprises since then their SFPs have remained unaltered.
The payment anomaly affects between 2,000 and 3,000 farmers, some of whom are on payments as low as €28/ha.
The farmers' appeal to Brussels comes just weeks ahead of EU Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan, signing off on the final farm payment details within the new CAP agreement which runs to 2020.
More 700 affected farmers attended a packed meeting in Athlone last Friday night. The meeting was told that many of these 'young old farmers' would be leaving farming sooner rather than later unless their payment grievances were addressed in the reformed CAP.
Only 6pc of Irish farmers are under the age of 35 years and half of this cohort - or up to 3,000 farmers - are adversely affected by the payments anomaly.
Group founder Kenneth O'Brien, a suckler, sheep and beef farmer from Galway, told the Farming Independent this week that 'young old farmers' were only receiving a fraction of the EU direct payments which their holdings and farm enterprise warranted.
In his case he was receiving a payment equivalent to €28/ha or a mere €900 a year because his entitlement is based on the 2001 reference year when he began farming at the 19 years of age.