Commenting on the launch of the new on-farm investment scheme for young farmers, John Comer, President of ICMSA, welcomed the scheme and stated that it was necessary to allow young farmers develop their business for the future but he pointed to some glaring anomalies in the scheme that need to be addressed - particularly in relation to the scheme’s definition of a ‘Young Farmer’.
As an example, Mr Comer said it was unacceptable that a farmer who was 40 years of age on 1 May 2015 will not qualify as a ‘young farmer’ for this scheme while he/she would qualify under the Basic Payment-related schemes.
It is also unfair, Mr Comer observed, that such farmers may be excluded on age limits because of a delay in launching this scheme – a delay that was totally outside his or her control.
Noting the Five Year Rule, Mr Comer said a significant number of young farmers who are undoubtedly committed to farming have been excluded from this scheme on this criteria and again this needs to be addressed.
The ICMSA President noted that there are negotiations ongoing at EU level around the issue of simplification and said “if they are to mean anything, the kind of anomaly that has two simultaneous definitions of a Young Farmer being recognised and operated needs to be addressed.”
The further schemes due to be launched in relation to dairy equipment and general farm investment should be opened immediately, said Mr Comer, “as it is quite clear that it could take at least six months from date of application to approval and farmers need to plan their investments in a structured way”.
He said this was particularly important in relation to dairy equipment as farmers would need their approval by the end of September at the latest to allow the completion of their investment during the dry period.
He said the proposal to set €120 aside for the Young Farmers Scheme means that there is only €275m available for all the other on-farm investment schemes and the expectation is that the level of applications will be much higher under these schemes. “Farmers over 40 have investment requirements just as valid as those under 40 and a sufficient budget must be made available”, he said.