Speaking in a Seanad debate this week Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said that he is committed to supporting the cause of young farmers throughout Ireland in equal measure.

He added: “A young farmer under the age of 40 years, who has come to farming in the past three years, will get a top-up of 25 per cent on his or her single farm payment. This will be 25 per cent of the national average single farm payment. As an example, I refer to a young farmer taking over a farm who is fortunate to take over a high single farm payment per hectare compared to a neighbour who is taking over a farm with a much lower single farm payment per hectare.

“We think it would be unfair to make the top-up 25 per cent of the payment. Instead, we want every young farmer to get the same extra lump sum. For some farmers, who live in parts of the country with a low average single farm payment, the young farmer’s payment may be higher than the single farm payment, but it will allow young farmers to invest in their farms in the way we need them to.

“In Ireland, in terms of a figure for the maximum amount young farmers may be getting, a lot of people expected us to limit the young farmer’s top-up to the average farm size. That means they would receive it for the first 32 hectares and nothing after that, but we have raised it to the first 50 hectares. Therefore, a farmer who takes over a farm of 50 hectares will receive a payment of €16,000 over five years. That is a sizeable amount of money in terms of a top-up payment for young farmers. It will force a conversation to take place in families, between parents and their sons and daughters, on handing over the farm and the decision-making that goes with it, which is exactly what we need. A very strategic policy is being delivered through Pillar 1 and it will involve up to two per cent of the total Pillar 1 money of €1.21bn.”

Minister Coveney went on to point out that a national reserve of three per cent will be taken from the Pillar 1 money in the first year for new entrants to farming who do not have any entitlements but who need to be given them as part of coming into farming.

He commented: “That is a very strong support for young farmers. I am confident that Pillar 1 has been designed in a way that suits Ireland and Irish farming.”