Calls for ‘major overhaul’ in the way the National Reserve is funded

A call has been made for a major overhaul in the way the National Reserve is funded, by the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA).

INHFA National Chair Vincent Roddy has said that he believes that a fund of €13m is needed to cover the needs of young farmers, new entrants and the forgotten farmer group.

While the obvious solution in delivering this funding would be through a linear cut of just over 1% to the Basic Payment, Roddy said that it is unlikely that Minister Creed will do this which means other options need to be considered.

There are three viable options open to the Minister for Agriculture in delivering funding for a reserve, according to Roddy:

  • The first which can deliver in excess of €5m is to reduce all payments to €100,000 as agreed in the Programme for Government.
  • Take a linear cut of 0.5% from the Basic Payment which would amount to €6m and replace it with the unused €5m presently in the Young Farmer Top-up, which the INHFA understands cannot be used directly to fund the reserve.
  • The final option relates to the transfer of Basic Payment entitlements. In 2016 over €19m of entitlements was transferred through leasing, while only €27,986 was transferred through the sale of entitlements without land. Assessing these figures, Roddy said that it is quite clear that the 50% claw-back on the sale of entitlements without land is forcing farmers to use the leasing option.

INHFA is proposing a reduction in the claw-back on the sale of entitlements to 20% and to limit the number of years that a farmer can lease out their entitlements to two years.

By adopting these measures those with excess entitlements will be forced to sell or risk losing them, the association has said.

“This will ensure that these entitlements goes to active farmers and not be a pension plan for sofa farmers,” he said.

Roddy said that it is important that the Minister for Agriculture outlines his intention on the National Reserve in the next week as farmers need time to plan.