Scores of young farmers affected by a Government decision denying them payment top up

(stock photo)
(stock photo)

FarmIreland Reporter

Scores of young farmers who established in their own right between 2010 and 2014 have been shocked by a Government decision which denies them entitlement to a 25pc top up on their annual basic payment which revised EU regulation provides may be paid for a period of up to five years.

A spokesperson for the Department for Agriculture and Food has clarified that the decision of the Irish Government to opt out has been taken because of the potential cost to the exchequer which has been estimated at up to €7.5m to make the payment in 2019.

The Government official explained that it "would result in a requirement for a linear cut to all farmers’ basic payments"  to fund the additional spend under the Young Farmers Scheme, but the new entrants to farming are shocked by the decision.

EU Regulation 2017/2393 which came into effect on January 1, 2018  included an amendment to EU Regulation 1307/2013 regarding the number of years a successful applicant under the Young Farmers Scheme (YFS) can receive the payment.

While the regulatory amendment provided that YFS applicants who had commenced farming in 2010 and were eligible for YFS payment for only one year in 2015 would now be in a position to apply for YFS payment in 2018 and 2019, it also provided as "optional for Member States" to extend the provision to young farmers who set up a holding in the period 2010-2013, and who had received payment under the YFS in respect of claims before the claim year 2018.

It has been confirmed that the Department of Agriculture has chosen not to avail of the option to extend payment to the period 2010-2013, which it was estimated would cost  in excess of €5.5m in 2018  and €7.5m in 2019 and  would require a linear cut to all farmers’ basic payments to fund the additional spend.

Disappointed young farmers who contacted 'Farm Ireland' pointed out that the top up payment for young farmers who took up farming in their own right in the period 2010-13 is available in Northern Ireland and they believed that the same should apply in each member state within the EU.

The Department spokesperson explained "the position in Ireland differs from other Member States who have an under spend on their Young Farmers Scheme" as they  may have the flexibility to make the payments within existing funds.

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The adoption of the regulation chosen by Ireland "will provide for a situation where with effect from the 2018 scheme year, successful applicants under the Young Farmers Scheme who commenced farming from 2014 onwards and submit their first YFS application within five years of commencement of farming may receive payment under the YFS for five years".

Under the Young Farmers Scheme, introduced under CAP Reform 2014,  the basic payment awarded to young farmers, newcomers or farms set up in the previous five years was increased by 25% for the first five years with 2% of the national budget allocation to be used to finance the supplement top up which was made  mandatory under Pillar 1 of CAP for Member States in the EU to provide. 

It was necessary for applicants to be under 40 years of age in the year in which their application was submitted, and had to  be setting up an agricultural holding for the first time or have set up a holding in the previous five years. 

Member States were offered the option to choose between -

  • 25pc of the average value of the payment entitlements held by the farmer, 
  • 25pc of the average value of entitlements in the Member State, 
  • 25pc of the national average payment per hectare in the Member State (based on the national ceiling), multiplied by the number of entitlements activated by the young farmer, or a lump sum payment.

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