Calls made for supports to be rebalanced to help farm retirement

Specific details around the supports offered to young farmers need to change and an increased focus needs to be put on simplification and the freeing up of land, according to the Deputy President of the ICMSA (Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association), Pat McCormack.

McCormack was speaking following the ‘Young Farmers – Policy implementation after the 2013 CAP reform’ meeting organised by Teagasc.

As an example of a specific change required, the deputy president cited the Five Year Rule under the Young Farmer Scheme whereby the young farmer had to have started farming in the previous five years to be eligible for the scheme.

McCormack said this was a completely spurious condition that had unfairly excluded many young farmers.

He added that this would have to be reviewed for future schemes post 2020 with, ideally, all farmers below the age of 40-years-old eligible – irrespective of the year in which they commenced farming.

He said that similar flexibility would also have to be in place for the National Reserve Schemes, with attention also having to go to what he said were the anomalies between the definition of a young farmer for Pillar I and Pillar II schemes – specifically in applying for a TAMS II scheme grant.

“Our position on the question of freeing up land has not changed and that is that there must be incentives offered to both sides of the equation, so that along with the young farmer schemes, we will need to see a properly-funded ‘Early Retirement’ type scheme in the CAP post-2020.

The emphasis so far had been on the ‘coming’ side of the handover with not enough attention being placed on the ‘going’ generation.

“This is the missing link and the lack of attention to this aspect means that the generational changeover is ‘bitty’ and never achieves the momentum needed.

“There needs to be an exit strategy for the older farmers in their late 50s and early 60s and, until there is, we’re not going to see that generational renewal that we all agree is required,” he added.

McCormack concluded by saying that farmers need a much more clear focus on what they are trying to achieve in this whole area and policy must be geared to that end instead of spurious and arbitrary conditions.