Funding of €5m announced for the 2017 National Reserve

There will be funding of just over €5m for the 2017 National Reserve, the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, has announced.

Minister Creed said “the National Reserve is a vital resource for providing support to young farmers and new entrants to farming in the crucial years following establishment of the farm holding”.

As the National Reserve fund for 2017 is a very scarce resource the scheme will be targeted specifically at educated young farmers and new entrants to farming who fulfil specific objective criteria, the Department of Agriculture has said.

The National Reserve on-line application form together with full terms and conditions will be available when the scheme opens for applications in March 2017.

Following recent consultation between the Department and the Direct Payments Advisory Committee, it has been decided that a linear cut to the value of all Basic Payment Scheme entitlements will provide funding of just over €5m to the National Reserve in 2017.

The Direct Payments Advisory Committee is comprised of members of the main farming bodies and agricultural advisory and education providers.

This amount of €5m is equivalent to the amount of unspent funds under the Young Farmers Scheme in 2015 which was added to the Basic Payment Scheme financial ceiling, according to the Department.

The EU Regulations underpinning the operation of the National Reserve provide for priority access to the mandatory categories of ‘Young Farmer’ and ‘New Entrant to Farming’.

Successful applicants to the National Reserve receive an allocation of entitlements at National Average value or a top-up to the National Average value on entitlements that are below the national average.

In addition the Minister announced that the 2017 Young Farmers Scheme will also be available to provide an additional payment to any person who qualifies as a ‘young farmer’.

The 2015 National Reserve proved to be a huge success in facilitating the entry of over 6,000 young, well educated persons into the farming community.

“The National Reserve and the Young Farmers Scheme, together with the value of associated Greening payments, provided for an allocation of Pillar 1 payments in excess of €52m in 2015.

“The 2017 National Reserve will build on this progress in helping to provide a solid basis for the future of the agriculture Industry in Ireland.”

Eligibility criteria

To qualify as a ‘young farmer’ an applicant must meet the following conditions:

  • S/he is participating in the Basic Payment Scheme in the year s/he submits an application;
  • S/he is no more than 40 years of age during the calendar year in which s/he submits an application under the Basic Payment Scheme;
  • S/he is setting up an agricultural holding for the first time or has set up such a holding during the five years preceding the first submission of the Basic Payment Scheme application.

Meanwhile, a ‘new entrant to farming’ is defined as:

  • S/he is participating in the Basic Payment Scheme in the year s/he submits an application;
  • S/he must have commenced the present agricultural activity in the 2015 calendar year or any later year;
  • S/he did not have any agricultural activity in his/her own name and at his/her own risk in the five years preceding the start of the present agricultural activity;
  • S/he must submit an application for the Basic Payment Scheme not later than two years after the calendar year in which s/he completed the agricultural activity.

Other eligibility criteria

In line with the requirements under National Reserve schemes since the introduction of the Single Payment Scheme in 2005, successful candidates will be required to meet an appropriate agricultural education qualification standard.

Successful candidates will also be required to have an off-farm income of less than €40,000 in either of the 2015 or 2016 tax years. There is no off-farm income limit for the Young Farmers Scheme.