Scheme suspension ‘leaves farmers without pension’

FARMERS have been left without farm or pension by last week’s suspension of the early retirement scheme, according to the Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA).

There are disastrous results also for farmers who entered into irreversible land transactions required by the terms of the Installation Aid Scheme, said ACA president, Bréian Carroll.

“Both of these schemes required stamped legal documents, and there is invariably a time lag between the drawing up of leases, deeds of transfer and the availability of stamped documents. The Budget decision has caught these individuals between the stages.”

He said valid applications could not be made for either scheme until actions were taken such as transferring land, or establishing a farming activity prior to application.

Such irreversible decisions were taken with the legitimate expectation that installation aid and early retirement pensions would be available, and the consultants recommend that farmers who have entered into such actions be catered for.

“To deny such farmers their entitlement to either scheme would be to deny natural justice. In fact it is contrary to well established European law,” he said.

A delegation from Macra na Feirme will meet Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith this week to seek the reopening of the schemes, which were suspended last week by the minister, who provided with €56.7 million in the 2009 estimates for his department to allow current commitments to be met.

Macra president Catherine Buckley said Macra has been liaising with countless young farmers affected by the suspension, who feel the Government is turning its back on young farmers.

In north Kerry alone, 23 young farmers have qualified for their FETAC certificate, but will not be given their grant because of the closure of the installation Scheme, said the Sinn Féin spokesperson on agriculture, Martin Ferris TD.


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