The secretary general at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Brendan Gleeson, was quizzed on the possible reintroduction of a farm retirement scheme at a recent Public Accounts Committee meeting.

Responding to a question from Carlow Kilkenny Fianna Fail TD, Bobby Aylward, Gleeson said: “When we had that scheme, we did an economic evaluation on it and the conclusion was that essentially there was a fair bit of dead weight in it.

In other words, we were funding people that were on the cusp of doing this anyway.

Continuing, Gleeson said: “The focus we put on the last CAP was encouraging younger people in so we had a number of incentives for young people.

“I accept that there’s a great reluctance from older farmers to pass their land down or to get out and that’s something we have to reflect on in the context of the next CAP”.

In doing so, we have to reflect on the outcome of our previous study which showed we were paying people for something that might have been going to happen anyway. And it wasn’t that effective.

“There were all kinds of complexities with the old system which limited its effectiveness and the other issue was, once they got to 66, you had to net the payment of their old age pension.”

Concluding, Gleeson reiterated: “I accept that it is an issue and we still have the demographic issue and we have young farmers saying they find it difficult to get land from older farmers.”