Forgotten Farmer group to meet over ‘payment discrimination’

The Forgotten Farmer Group is set to hold a meeting later this week to address the issues facing ‘old young farmers’.

According to Kenneth O’Brien, founder of the group, there are 3,900 farmers who have been “discriminated” against by the Department of Agriculture.

The Galway-based farmer said ‘old young farmers’ have been treated unfairly, as they do not qualify for payments under the National Reserve or the Young Farmer Scheme.

In total, he said, these farmers are losing out on payments to the value of €12m, compared to farmers who are eligible for both schemes.

“This is just 1% of total CAP funding,” he said.

O’Brien also said that the farmers affected have very few or no entitlements because they started farming before the 2008 reference year.

“Young active farmers who are farming longer than eight years have no access to the National Reserve, this is European tax payers money and these farmers are being discriminated against.

“The sad thing is that there are farmers aged between 25 and 26, who are not entitled to funding from the National Reserve, while a 39-year-old,  who has just started farming can get funding from both schemes.

“All we are looking for is equality, we are looking to be recognised,” he said.

O’Brien also said that the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, can ensure that the ‘forgotten farmers’ are treated equally by looking at each farm on a case-by-case basis.

He said that the Minister could also use the funding available under the Scottish Derogation to provide a €50/ha top-up of the Basic Payment for the farmers affected.

The group are set to meet on Sunday, February 21, at 4pm in the Athlone Springs Hotel. All politicians and farmers are welcome to attend.