THE EASY chair beckons for about 170 farmers who made applications after Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith re-opened the Early Retirement Scheme (ERS) last September.
More than 170 applications were received by the October 31 deadline. A small number were rejected because vital supporting documentation was missing and the applications did not meet the scheme conditions.
But Mr Smith said of the scheme: “In the majority of cases, the applicants appeared, on preliminary examination, to meet the scheme conditions, and I am pleased to announce that these will be processed fully and, provided that they comply with the requirements of the scheme, would qualify for payment of pensions.”
The department will be in touch with the successful applicants shortly.
There were also a number of applications in which the prospective transferees taking over farms are required to be accepted into the Young Farmers’ Installation Scheme (YFIS). However, the YFIS was closed in October, 2008.
The minister said: “Rather than exclude these applications, I have decided to give the transferees concerned the opportunity to obtain additional land to enlarge the retiring farmers’ holdings, and to qualify for the scheme on that basis.
“In such cases, the retiring farmer will become eligible for pension from the date on which a valid revised application is received.”
The amount of additional land required is at least five hectares.
It may be owned, leased or rented, and must be the subject of an annual Single Payment Scheme application by the transferee for at least five years.
(Where the retiring farmer’s enterprise is an intensive one, the requirement is not for additional land, but for at least five additional production units.)
According to the Agricultural Consultants Association, the suspension of the early retirement scheme in October, 2008 had left many farmers “without farm or pension”.
The suspension occurred after the farmers concerned had made arrangements for retiring, but had not yet made applications to participate in the ERS.
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