Over 130 Co Leitrim farmers are facing exclusion from major funding streams over the next five years because a staffing shortfall at Teagasc has severely curtailed access to essential Green Cert courses.
In what has been deemed the “most serious and immediate issue” facing Co Leitrim, young farmers have been left in limbo, effectively excluded for applying for funding entitlements and grants because they cannot get access to courses for a Green Cert.
The Department of Agriculture has made the Cert a requirement for new aids such as the Young Farmer Scheme, priority access to the Basic Payment Scheme National Reserve and TAMS.
At Monday’s July Council Meeting, Cllr Enda Stenson said that the Teagasc Advisor Service in Co Leitrim had suffered serious staffing cutbacks which he said left them unable to run sufficient courses to meet local demand.
This meant that 130 farmers have been left on waiting lists for courses with no guarantee that they will be enrolled and thus qualify, for development aid under new farm funding schemes.
Under present rules, said Cllr Stenson, unless farmers are enrolled or have completed a course with Teagasc by the end of next month, they will not be able to meet the criteria to apply for funding.
At the July Council meeting he tabled a motion calling for the Minister for Agriculture, the Taoiseach and Teagasc, to intervene and find a solution before farmers find themselves cut from vital funding opportunities.