As young farmers our overwhelming view is that CAP payments need to support active farmers and that all CAP 2020 measures need to be young farmers proofed with a top-up for young farmers on all measures. We are calling for the commitment of a minimum of 10% of the total CAP budget be dedicated towards young farmer measures.
Despite global events, political circumstances and Brexit it is crucial that every effort is made to protect the CAP budget with the ambition required to increase it.
We welcome the EU Commission focus on Generational Renewal as a key priority. We propose significant change to CAP to encourage generational renewal and to support active farmers of all ages.
Mandatory start-up aid to facilitate the establishment of young farmers is required as well as a mandatory young farmer top-up for all farmers up to the age of 40 is required.
We want the five-year-rule abolished which will ensure equal treatment and access to measures for all young farmers and agricultural education to be a mandatory requirement for young farmers in all Member States.
We advocate for a continuously funded national reserve for young farmers with low value or no payments. We propose an innovative proposal offering the EU Commission a clear inter-generational succession planning model to aid the exit, from the industry, of the approximate 45% of Irish farmers who want to retire. We focus on succession and collaboration rather than retirement.
Young farmers want to create a positive conversation around farm succession that supports the older generations. We propose that upon reaching 63, it becomes mandatory for a farmer to complete a farm succession plan.
At the age of 65, farmers avail of a transition payment up to the age of 70 and if a farmer wishes to continue to receive CAP supports beyond the age of 70, such a farmer would need to get involved in a collaborative farming arrangement.
Young farmers recognise the needs, contribution and experience of older farmers within the industry which can be of tremendous benefit to younger farmers starting their careers.
Young farmers strongly articulate that the active farmer definition needs to be strengthened. Macra na Feirme opposes the omnibus proposal to allow member states the option whether or not to apply the definition of ‘active farmer’ and demands that a standard active farmer definition is upheld by all member states which is powerful and capable of refocusing the distribution of payments to active farmers.
We recommend maintaining the current negative active farmer list with additional parameters added which encourage a business minded approach, when redefining the active farmer definition. Cross compliance checks would determine achievement of the active farmer definition.
The direct payment model is the best way of rewarding vibrant, efficient, sustainable, active farmers but the outdated reliance upon historical reference year payments is a barrier to young farmers entering agriculture. We propose a new model of distributing direct payment — calculated on a four-way budgetary split as follows:
- 40% of budget for an economic viability area payment to farmer based on individual level of the 2019 converged area based payments
- 30% targeted payment, paid on achievement of climate change and results based environmental measures.
- 20% targeted payment, paid on achievement of farm business development measures including a portion of the budget for front loaded coupled measures for vulnerable sectors.
- 10% Young Farmer Measures — Mandatory young farmer top-up up to the age of 40 and ongoing continuously open National Reserve open to all young farmers and new entrants.
All Rural Development Programme (RDP) measures need to be young farmer proofed with additional grant aid to all young educated farmers who are under the age of 40. RDP measures should complement investment, jobs and growth in rural communities.
Proposed measures in our document include start-up aid and succession measures as outlined above, financial instruments and risk management measures, a knowledge transfer voucher system to allow all farmers access knowledge transfer which caters for their needs, environmental measures, a farmer health, safety and wellbeing measure with farmers receiving a free, yearly health and wellbeing check-up and participation in a free mandatory health and safety course as well as farm investment and improvement measures.
We call legislative action and funding through the RDP to facilitate the establishment of national programmes aimed at facilitating land mobility/succession planning services.