The Department of Agriculture has already put together the “preliminary outline” of a new scheme which could open for the 'forgotten farmers', Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue told TDs on Thursday.

However, the Department is unable to release any details until funding streams are identified and all options on the table are considered, the Minister said.

Analysis from the Department puts the number falling under the definition of forgotten farmers at around 3,500.

Minister McConalogue came under pressure from Sinn Féin TD Claire Kerrane to give forgotten farmers “as much clarity as possible” on an opening date.

“We are working on a tailored support package for these farmers and I want to conclude the process as soon as possible,” the Minister commented.

“My Department has developed a preliminary outline of a proposal to provide support to the forgotten farmer group.

“There are a number of issues to be addressed; for example, the funding required and consistency with public expenditure, before the details of the eligibility requirements and benefits to successful applicants under a scheme can be finalised.”

Macra pressing for action

Macra raised the issue of forgotten farmers in a meeting with Minister McConalogue on Thursday.

The young farmers’ group welcomed comments from the Minister that the matter would be resolved, but echoed callas for urgency in the development of a support scheme.

“We were assured in October that a scheme was forthcoming and it has yet to be delivered. What we need to see is the action sooner rather than later,” its president Elaine Houlihan said.

“These forgotten farmers can wait no longer with rising input and energy costs. Many investments have been put on hold. With the commitments by the Minister, the time to deliver meaningful supports for these farmers is now.”