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Tuesday 12 December 2017

ICMSA says only 'deserving applicants' should qualify for National Reserve payments

Approximately, 4,000 young farmers require places on the adult green cert arising from the education requirements of the young farmers scheme and the national reserve. Photo: Depositphotos
Approximately, 4,000 young farmers require places on the adult green cert arising from the education requirements of the young farmers scheme and the national reserve. Photo: Depositphotos
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Speaking following a meeting of the Direct Payments Advisory Group Meeting, the Deputy President of ICMSA, Pat McCormack, said that the Minister for Agriculture cannot expect farmers to sign a blank cheque in order to establish a National Reserve

He said his organisation will insist that a maximum funding limit is put in place.

“Farmers have already lost 5% of their BPS/Greening payment to establish a National Reserve and Young Farmers Scheme and in the context where many farmers see their payment declining annually due to convergence and where Brexit could lead to another 5% to 10% cut in payments," McCormack said.

He said ICMSA will insist that the Minister cap the National Reserve at the current level.

"We note, by the way, that the Young Farmers Scheme has an underspend of €5m -  and that the Department accepts that farmers cannot be expected to add to these funds if the scheme is oversubscribed. 

"For very many farm families the BPS/Greening payment represents 100% of their income and any cuts in these payments is a direct hit on family income and the proposal currently in place represents a 0.4% cut in each farmer’s BPS/Greening payment. 

"This is difficult enough but farmers will certainly not accept further additions to this, approximately €52m of farmers direct payments have been allocated to the National Reserve and Young Farmers Scheme to date and this is the limit that farmers are prepared to accept”, said McCormack.

The ICMSA Deputy President said that in common with all schemes operated by the Department, in the event of the scheme being oversubscribed, decisions will have to be taken to bring the number of applicants into line with the funding available through the use of selection criteria.

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ICMSA, he said, will not accept a situation where farmers are expected to sign a blank cheque for whatever amount of money the Department wishes to allocate to these funds.

National Reserve Criteria

ICMSA is also clearly saying that only deserving applicants should qualify for payments under the National Reserve and the terms and conditions must ensure that this is the case.

"In particular, the 90ha limit - which is nearly three times the national average - is way too high and needs to be reduced, while successful applicants should operate on a ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ basis for at least five years.

"Farmers are giving up a piece of their payment for the National Reserve and they have a right to expect that it is going to deserving applicants”, he said.  

McCormack concluded by noting that both the EU and Department have consistently cut farmers’ payments over the years irrespective of whether a farmer has a small or large payment.

 “It’s essential that in the next review of CAP brings forward an alternative model of funding that ensures that farmers who are dependent on these payments do not suffer further ongoing cuts to a payment that is already declining annually in real terms.”


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