Macra says it's found a way to fund a National Reserve this year

Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

A decision on a 2017 National Reserve for young farmers and new entrant priority categories is imminent with farm organisations and the Department set to meet in the coming weeks on the issue.

Speaking ahead of the upcoming, Macra na Feirme National President Seán Finan said, having consulted with young farmers across the country we have identified a clear need for a 2017 National Reserve.

Finan also says Macra believe it have identified a mechanism to fund it which would avoid a linear cut to all farmers direct payments.

“This would involve distributing unused funds from the young farmers top up and recouping them to create a fund for a 2017 National Reserve for the priority categories of new entrants and young farmers," he said.

Finan said Macra na Feirme and young farmers are very clear that we have to get away from the stop- start nature of young farmer schemes and a 2017 National Reserve is vitally important for young farmers and their successful futures in the industry.

"Funding allocated to young farmer schemes should remain with young farmers. We look forward to engaging with Agriculture Minister Michael Creed, Department of Agriculture officials and the other farm organisations to discuss the finer detail."

In 2015 the National Reserve fund was based on a 3% cut to the Basic Payment Scheme financial ceiling and provided some €24 million in funding which was the maximum financing rate available under the relevant EU Regulations.

Some 6,300 farmers received an allocation of entitlements under the 2015 National Reserve.

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There was no National Reserve in 2016 as all available funding had been utilised under the 2015 scheme. In order to provide for a National Reserve in 2017 funding is required to replenish the Reserve.

EU Regulations governing the scheme provide that funding for the replenishment of the National Reserve may be obtained by means of surrender of entitlements that remain unused by farmers for two consecutive years and by claw-back derived following the sale of entitlements without land.

It is envisaged that funding derived from these two sources in 2017 will be very limited.

The Regulations also provide for the application of a linear cut to the value of all farmers’ entitlements to replenish the National Reserve.

Under the National Reserve priority access for an allocation of entitlements is given to the two mandatory categories of ‘young farmer’ and ‘new entrant to farming’.

The Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has said decisions in relation to the National Reserve in 2017 will be made once the position on potential funding has been established.

Consultation between Department officials and the Direct Payments Advisory Committee comprising members of the main farming organisations, agricultural education and farm advisory bodies takes place annually as part of the decision making process for the National Reserve.

Consultation in relation to the 2017 Reserve is due to take place shortly.

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