What’s the National Reserve and am I eligible to apply?

Applicants have until May 15 to submit an application to the 2018 National Reserve and Young Farmers Scheme. These are key measures in encouraging and facilitating generational renewal through the entrance of young, well-educated persons into the farming sector.

The EU regulations governing the operation of the National Reserve provide for priority access to the mandatory categories of ‘Young Farmer’ and ‘New Entrant to Farming’.

Successful applicants to the National Reserve receive an allocation of entitlements at the National Reserve national average value or a top-up to the national average value on entitlements that are below the national average.

It is expected that the fund for 2018 will be in the region of €3.5 million and will be specifically targeted at educated, young farmers and new entrants to farming who fulfil specific criteria.

Am I eligible?

To be eligible for the Young Farmers’ category of the National Reserve an applicant must meet the following conditions:

  • She/he has submitted a valid 2018 Basic Payment Scheme application under a herd number on which the applicant is included;
  • She/he is aged no more than 40 years of age at any time during the calendar year in which she/he first submits an application under the Basic Payment Scheme;
  • She/he has successfully completed a recognised course of education in agriculture, which has given rise to an award at FETAC level 6 or its equivalent by May 15, 2018;
  • She/he is setting up an agricultural holding for the first time or has set up such a holding during the five years preceding the first submission of the Basic Payment Scheme application;
  • Has a gross off-farm income that does not exceed €40,000 in one of the tax years of 2016 or 2017.

Applying as part of a group

Where a young farmer undertakes the farming activity as part of of a group in a joint herd number, a registered farm partnership or a company – the group will be considered eligible if the following conditions are met:

  • At least one person in the group must meet the definition of a Young Farmer;
  • That Young Farmer must exercise effective and long-term control – either solely or jointly – within the group in terms of decisions related to the management, benefits and financial risks of the group. Such control is demonstrated as follows:
    • The young farmer’s name is on the herd number;
    • The young farmer’s name is on the bank account used for the purposes of the receipt of payments under the Basic Payment Scheme;
    • Companies only – the young farmer must be a director and minimum 20% shareholder in the company;
    • All persons who participate in the group must complete a National Reserve / Young Farmers Scheme declaration form confirming that the young farmer has effective control – either solely or jointly – with the other members of the group.

The ‘New Entrant to Farming’ category

New entrants to farming can also apply to the National Reserve. A new entrant is defined as:

  • She/he has submitted a valid 2018 Basic Payment Scheme application under a herd number on which the applicant is included;
  • She/he must have commenced the present agricultural activity in the 2016 calendar year or any later year;
  • She/he did not have any agricultural activity in his/her own name and at his/her own risk in the five years preceding the start of the present agricultural activity;
  • She/he has successfully completed a recognised course of education in agriculture, which has given rise to an award at FETAC level 6 or its equivalent by May 15, 2018;
  • Has a gross off-farm income that does not exceed €40,000 in one of the tax years 2016 or 2017.

Where a herd number that is registered on behalf of a group applies under the new entrant category, all persons in control of the group must meet all conditions of the new entrant category with the exception of the educational requirement.

However, at least one of the persons in control of the group must have successfully completed a recognised course of education, which has given rise to an award at FETAC level 6 or its equivalent.

In the case of a group which commences its agricultural activity in 2016 or later, all persons in control of that group must not have engaged in any agricultural activity in their own name and at their own risk, or have had control of another legal entity engaged in such agricultural activity, in the five years preceding the start of the agricultural activity of the applicant.

More information

Further information on the National Reserve is available on the Department of Agriculture’s website. Click here for more information