The re-opened National Reserve is great news for young farmers who want to progress their careers, said Macra na Feirme National President Seán Finan.
He said young farmers feared they would have to go without a National Reserve up to 2020, if it was not opened this year, and Macra na Feirme had been actively campaigning for it over an extended period.
Aimed at educated young farmers and new entrants to farming who fulfil specific criteria, the 2017 National Reserve will provide entitlements at the national average value, or a top-up to the national average value on entitlements that are below the national average, for successful applicants.
After consultation with the main farming bodies and agricultural advisory and education providers, the Department of Agriculture has announced funding of just over €5 million for the Reserve in 2017, equivalent to the amount of unspent funds under the Young Farmers Scheme in 2015, funded by a linear cut in the value of all Basic Payment Scheme entitlements.
The Minister said the 2015 National Reserve facilitated the entry of over 6,000 young, well educated persons into farming. No national reserve was available in 2016.
Application forms and full terms and conditions will be available in March.
Welcoming the National Reserve announcement, IFA Deputy President Richard Kennedy called on Minister Creed to clarify clawback on sales of entitlements; IFA wants the clawback reduced from 50% to 20%.
ICMSA Deputy President Pat McCormack also welcomed the announcement, and said it is essential that only properly committed young farmers or new entrants are considered for payment.
“The current rules in relation to the National Reserve are simply too loose, and we have particularly emphasised our view that successful applicants should be required to farm for at least five years, while the maximum number of eligible hectares should be substantially reduced from the current 90 hectares, which is almost three times the national average.”
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