Commenting on the launch of the new on-farm investment scheme for young farmers, Mr. 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 definition of a ‘Young Farmer’ which is more restrictive than the definition set out for the Basic Payment-related schemes.
As an example, Mr. Comer said that his organisation found it 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 totally unfair, Mr Comer observed, that such farmers are excluded because of a delay in launching this scheme – a delay that was totally outside his or her control and this needs to be addressed. In relation to the Five Year Rule, a significant number of young farmers who are undoubtedly committed to farming have been totally excluded from this scheme 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, if they are to mean anything, this anomaly and that of having two simultaneous definitions of a Young Farmer 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. In relation to the funding of the schemes, the proposal to have up to €120m set 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”, concluded Mr. Comer.
Ends 14 May 2015.
John Comer, 087-2057846
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office