The young farmers organisation, Macra na Feirme is seeking to have the payment application dates of the Young Farmers Scheme (YFS) changed by the Department of Agriculture in order to ensure that every qualified applicant receives a full five years of payments.

Currently, only young farmers with the required educational qualification are eligible for the YFS within five years of setting up a farm holding, but this leads to a number of young farmers losing out on some annual payments.

For example, a young farmer who has established a farm for four years when submitting a successful first-time application for the YFS will currently only receive one year’s payment.

If the changes are brought in then every successful applicant to the YFS would receive a full five years’ worth of payments.

Additional payments

The proposed change would unlock additional annual payments for young farmers and could help to deal with the issue of ‘forgotten farmers’.

The Department of Agriculture in Northern Ireland has just implemented this new ruling, which comes off the back of Omnibus regulations from the EU, and Macra na Feirme is seeking to have the same change made to the YFS in the republic of Ireland.

Macra na Feirme president James Healy told the Irish Farmers Journal: “This move by DAERA is an extremely positive one, remedying a loop-hole that has caused many issues for young farmers.

“Since the publication of the omnibus regulations, Macra na Feirme has sought a meeting with the Department of Agriculture to seek clarification on its position and how it plans to implement the changes.

“This move by DAERA shows some of what can be achieved with the changes in the regulations and we look forward to meeting with the Department of Agriculture to explore the options available.”

Minister Creed

Responding to a parliamentary question from Charlie McConalogue TD (FF) on the subject in December 2017, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said the Omnibus Regulations would bring about “…a facility to provide Young Farmers Scheme payments to applicants for five years from the date of application, regardless of their establishment date”.

However, the Department has yet to confirm if these changes to the YFS will be brought about in 2018.

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