There should be enough money in the national reserve for ‘old’ young farmers, according to the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.

However, speaking on the issue in the Dail this week he also said that funding for new entrants and young farmers will be prioritised first through the reserve.

“The priority categories will be new entrants and young farmers who will receive top-ups on their entitlements up to the average figure before they then receive the 25% additional top-up under a separate scheme for young farmers.

“People will be entering farming for the first time without entitlements or payments. They will be buying or taking out long-term leases on land without entitlements. They will have to be able to apply to receive some entitlement.”

According to the Minister once the priority categories are funded through the national reserve, he Department will examine the old-young farmer category as the next priority.

The Minister said if a farmer is in the ‘old young farmer category and his or her payment is below the national average, he or she can apply under phase 2 of the national reserve allocations and Department should be able to increase the entitlements to the national average.

“Which will make a big difference for many young farmers.

“There should be enough money in the national reserve to do this,” he said.

The Minister did say that it is possible that the national reserve could run out of money.

“But we have made our calculations on the basis that it will not. If we do run out of money, we will have to consider how we might change the allocation process to use the money we have available to best effect, whether by reducing the area involved or changing the qualifying criteria.”

He said the Department will negotiate with the farming organisations and other stakeholders should that happen.

“I hope, however, that we will have enough money in the national reserve to deal with it,” he said.

What will ‘old’ young farmers receive?

The Minister said farmers in the category will be paid on the basis of up to 90 entitlements, that is, 90 hectares.

“A decent sized farm by any standard,” he said.

“We do not want people with huge holdings to have a significant bump in their entitlements, but eligible farmers will be receiving payments to push up their entitlements to the national average.”