2,000 young farmers have applied to National Reserve

Some 2,000 young farmers have already applied to the National Reserve, which is not due to close until May 15.

The figure was confirmed by the Department of Agriculture, during a briefing by the Department on CAP and Greening in Dublin.

Speaking at the briefing the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said that while some 6% of farmers today are under the age of 35, which is significantly less than the number of farmers over 65.

The National Reserve was opened to young farmers on January 6. Under the definition of young farmer, applicants must be 40 years old or less and must have entered farming for the first time within the past five years.

The National Reserve was established by the Department of Agriculture using 3% of the ceiling allocated to the Basic Payment Scheme in 2015 creating a fund of close to €25m.

Successful applicants will receive an allocation of entitlements based on the eligible land declared on their 2015 Basic Payment Scheme application at a value equal to the national average value of entitlements in the year of application.

Successful applicants who already hold entitlements which are below the national average value will receive a top-up whereby the value of those entitlements will be increased to the national average value.

Under EU Regulation the two categories of Young Farmer and New Entrant to farming receive priority access to the National Reserve.

The 2012 CSO census of agriculture showed that the average age of farmers in Ireland was 54, compared to 51 in 2000.