'I did the Green Cert as CAP reform was coming up, but the money went to the big boys. I was left high and dry'

Trevor Kelly on his farm in Roscommon.
Trevor Kelly on his farm in Roscommon.
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

Roscommon farmer Trevor Kelly says he did his Green Cert as the last CAP reform was coming up and he was assured there would be a category for him in in.

"I was not classed as a young farmer so was left high and dry," the Castlerea farmer says, which saw him with no option but to shelve his plans to increase his suckler herd until the Forgotten Young Farmer issue is resolved by the Department of Agriculture.

"It's purely a euro and cents issue because the lack of a farm payment limits his chances of expanding his livestock farm at Trien outside Castlerea in Co Roscommon."

According to Trevor, he's in no man's land as he'll be over 40 in July and will be outside the age limit to qualify to be a young farmer anymore.

There are around 2,000 farmers in a similar position to him, he says, and he's underwhelmed by the efforts of the Irish Government and farm organisations to sort this issue.

Not only did Trevor spend money and two years getting his Green Cert, he also has been investing in his farm since he was 25. "I started with 20 acres and bought 30. I'm renting more and I've built up my stock, build a shed and yard."

He says it would take about €10m from the current CAP budget to solve the issue and help the Forgotten Young Farmers but all they get from the politicians and farm organisations are promises which are never kept. "

We are being shafted," he says.

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"If any farming emergency occurs in the dairy or tillage sectors there is money made available from the CAP funds to deal with the problems. I don't grudge them the emergency money but why can't the Government and Department of Agriculture find the money within the CAP budget to solve our problem," he says.

Trevor took over the family farm from his parents Thomas and Mairead just over 10 years ago. It was a small 20-acre holding back then but it's a 50-acre enterprise now, with a further 35 acres rented.

"All of this investment was made because I believe there is a future in farming and I want to expand. I invested in the belief that come 2014 I would get my fair share of the CAP."

Trevor had intended to increase the size of his suckler herd of Belgian Blues, Limousins and Charolais to 35 in recent years, but has put these ambitions on hold until he is in receipt of a full farm payment from the CAP budget.

"If I had the farm payment I would be able to expand. Otherwise I would be using my own money and if you were to fall behind on the repayments the banks wouldn't be slow in taking everything off you," he adds.

According to Trevor, he's baffled how anyone can justify continuing to pay farmers on very good land outrageously high entitlements and simultaneously expect other farmers to survive on marginal land with low entitlements.

"What about farmers such as myself, that have borrowed heavily to improve productivity – are we not worth saving?"

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