‘10% of CAP budget must be earmarked for young farmers’

Ambitious changes to CAP post-2020 have been proposed by Macra na Feirme to address structural, competitive and generational challenges in Irish farming – with calls for 10% of overall CAP funding to be earmarked for young farmers.

Following an extensive consultation with 1,000 young farmers countrywide, Macra na Feirme submitted its policy document on the Common Agricultural Policy post-2020.

To address the lack of young farmers in the industry, Macra na Feirme is calling for a minimum of 10% of the total CAP budget to be dedicated towards generational renewal and young farmer measures.

Macra na Feirme National President James Healy said: “If we are to be successful in tackling the demographic and structural challenges in Irish agriculture, a paradigm shift in CAP post-2020 is required, including young farmer proofing of all aspects of the CAP.”

The young farmers’ association has also recommended a budgetary increase for CAP.

Policy paper

The Macra na Feirme policy paper contains proposed changes to the young farmer and active farmer definitions including the abolition of the ‘five-year-rule’ for young farmers and suggested changes to the active farmer definition to ensure payments are targeted at active farmers.

On CAP direct payments Macra na Feirme does not favour the “outdated” method of historical reference year payments – which are a barrier to young farmers, it says.

The organisation proposes a new four-way budgetary split for direct payments.

This would consist of:
  • 40% targeted at economic viability;
  • 30% at climate change and environment;
  • 20% at farm business development measures; and
  • 10% at young farmers.

For young farmers to offset establishment costs, the Macra na Feirme policy contains details of a mandatory start-up aid package.

Start-up aid would be available for vouched expenditure and necessary capital inputs and investments at establishment.

Once established, Macra na Feirme is calling for mandatory young farmer top-ups for all those up to the age of 40, that meet the young farmer definition criteria as well as a continuously-funded National Reserve to provide young farmers under the age of 40 with national average payments.

The organisation’s policy paper also makes suggestions on:

  • the introduction of financial instruments to make alternative sources of credit available;
  • a new voucher system for knowledge transfer;
  • result-based environmental schemes;
  • farmer health, safety and wellbeing; and
  • farm improvement measures such as a grazing infrastructure scheme.