Farmers applaud €5m national reserve reopening

Macra na Feirme and the IFA have welcomed Agriculture Minister Michael Creed’s decision to allocate €5m in funds for the newly-reopened 2017 national reserve.

In line with EU regulations, young farmers and new entrants to farming can apply for the €5m fund for 2017, equivalent to unspent funds in the 2015 young farmers scheme. The reserve was closed in 2016.

Successful applicants will receive entitlements at national average value or a top-up to any entitlements below the national average. The 2015 national reserve helped more than 6,000 young people enter farming.

Mr Creed said: “The national reserve and the young farmers scheme, together with the value of associated greening payments, provided for an allocation of pillar one payments in excess of €52m in 2015. The 2017 national reserve will build on this progress.”

The national reserve online application form will be available when the scheme opens for applications in March 2017.

Macra na Feirme president Seán Finan said the reopening of the fund is great news for young farmers who want to progress their farming careers, and a positive signal from the Government on the value it places on the development of young farmers.

Mr Finan said: “The reserve will incorporate those who lost out in 2016, but also the 2017 young farmers and new entrants. We believe if the national reserve was not opened this year, it’s unlikely it would open for the duration of the current CAP programme.

“It is now hoped, but remains to be seen, if the replenishment mechanisms including ‘clawback’ on sale of entitlements without land and unused entitlements, will create enough of a budget to accommodate young farmers for 2018 and for subsequent years up to the end of the current CAP programme,” he said.

Macra na Feirme said the reopened fund will give necessary clarity to young farmers, who had been previously unable to plan ahead due to the stop-start nature of recent young farmer schemes. Macra thanked Mr Creed for this decision.

Meanwhile, IFA’s deputy president, Richard Kennedy, has also welcomed the reopening of the national reserve — the need for which he said had been very clearly outlined by the IFA at the recent direct payments advisory committee.

Mr Kennedy has also called upon the minister to clarify the situation on clawback on sales of entitlements.

He said that the clawback should be reduced from 50% to 20% which would have the potential to create additional funds for the national reserve in future.

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