This article reflects the experiences and views of many young farmers around Ireland, who have been waiting on an outcome to their national reserve application and/or their young farmer top-up application.

In addition to quickly resolving the outstanding cases, the Department of Agriculture must resolve queries and issues in a transparent and timely manner.


According to the Department of Agriculture, I should have received a letter by now outlining why I am still waiting on my young farmer top-up, but I have not. According to the Department of Agriculture, it was “working on” the application two weeks ago, but I still have not received a cent.

According to Minister Coveney, I would have my young farmer top-up “within two weeks” – that was on 16 February at the Cork Central IFA general election meeting.

The Department of Agriculture direct payments centre says my application was “being processed” – that was after phoning 27 times and getting only a voice-activated message to which I got no reply. I was asked to continue to hold, something which I’m sure a lot of farmers are well used to hearing when they ring the Department to find out what was holding up payments.

All I want is an answer, as do many young farmers. I have tried numerous avenues: phone calls, emails and I have even spoken to the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney himself in an attempt to get an answer on when a payment would be made or the reason for the hold-up.

At the recent Cork Central IFA general election meeting, we were told that the Department had made a mistake this year and had outsourced its direct payments phone line, so the people answering the phones didn’t know what was actually holding up payments as they weren’t dealing with processing the applications. Therefore, it was a complete waste of time even trying to call to find out what was delaying the payment.

If they weren’t answering the phones or they weren’t dealing with processing the applications, then what were they doing as we could never get through?

All farmers wanted was an answer and to know when their payment would come, so they can plan around that. There has to be a simpler method to track and trace your application rather than trying to call the Department and never getting an answer or emailing and being told that “your application is being processed” or being given “another two weeks” by Minister Coveney.

Different system

I would recommend the Department to have a system in place for next year to avoid this situation and have a track-and-trace system for farmers to check what is happening with their application online.

If I apply for a passport, I can track it from the moment my application is lodged and every step along the way is accounted for and I can view what stage my passport application is at, up to the minute I have the passport in my hand.

It can be done with registered post and parcels being delivered, so maybe the Department could simply implement a similar method for all applications. It would make the frustration of trying to find out what is happening a lot easier.

As far back as September at the National Ploughing Championships, I went into the Department’s marquee and checked that everything was correct with all the applications and I was told “Yes everything is perfect, it should face no problems being processed” – yet, here I am still waiting.