Budgetary constraints look set to hinder a 2017 National Reserve Scheme

Budgetary constraints look set to hinder the opening of a National Reserve Scheme in 2017.

The scheme, which had over 6,000 successful applications in 2015, failed to open this year due to a lack of available funding as the budget for the scheme was fully utilised in 2015, the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed has confirmed.

Furthermore, the Cork-based TD stopped short of ruling out a National Reserve Scheme for young farmers and new entrants to farming in 2017.

Replying to a parliamentary question from the Fianna Fail Spokesperson on Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue, the Agricultural Minister said decisions in relation to next year’s National Reserve will be made once the position on potential funding has been established.

On the issue of further funding of the scheme, the Minister said that the European Union Regulations governing the scheme allow for replenishing of funds by other means.

These include the surrender of entitlements that remain unused by farmers for two consecutive years and by a claw-back clause derived following the sale of entitlements without land.

However, the Minister does expect the funding available from these methods in 2017 to be limited.

Minister Creed also said that the Regulations also provide for the application of a linear cut to the value of all farmers’ entitlements to replenish the National Reserve.

And if the scheme is opened for applications in 2017, it will likely to be targeted at ‘young farmers’ and new entrants to farming’, which are the two priority categories set down under the EU regulations of the scheme.

Some 6,260 successful applicants in 2015

Despite the lack of a National Reserve this year and the budgetary constraints facing such a scheme next year, the Minister did say that there were 6,260 successful applicants in 2015.

In 2015 the National Reserve fund was based on a 3% cut to the Basic Payment Scheme financial ceiling and provided some €24.7m in funding which was the maximum financing rate available under the relevant EU Regulations.