Irish-EU discussions on leased entitlements, young farm partnerships

UPDATE: The new young farmers scheme from 2015 onwards will be subject to further negotiations between the Department of Agriculture and the EU Commission in the coming weeks with regard to young farmers who farm in partnership or as a company.

This was announced this afternoon, as the department released further information relating to direct payments for 2014-2019. In addition, it said department officials are working intensively with the EU Commission on the status of leased entitlements.

With regard to the young farmers scheme, it said the original proposals drafted by the EU Commission were very restrictive in the terms applied to a young person who may farm as part of a company or partnership.

“Persons who meet the definition of ‘young farmer’ but who farm as a company or partnership, which includes one or more persons who do not meet the definition of ‘young farmer’ would be excluded from the benefits of the young farmers scheme,” the department noted.

It stressed that Ireland is now working to obtain flexibility in the application of the scheme to such partnerships and companies.

In terms of leased entitlements, the department said the value that will be allocated to farmers in 2015 will be based on the value held by a farmer under the 2014 scheme year.

“This value will be based on either the total value of entitlements held by a farmer in 2014 or on the payment received by the farmer in 2014,” it said, adding the status of entitlements that were leased out in full and with other member states under the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) but expire at the end of 2014 or in subsequent years remains to decided by the EU Commission.

“Ireland is working intensively and with other member states to arrive at a position that ensures fairness for all those concerned,” it added.

The Agriculture Department further outlined details of new direct payments.

Up to and including the scheme year 2013, a rate of 10 per cent reduction, known as ‘modulation’, was applied to all amounts in excess of €5,000 received under the SPS, it said.

“As of the 2014 scheme year, no modulation will be applied to payments received under the SPS. However as the national ceiling available to Ireland has been reduced proportionately, it is necessary to apply a reduction to the value of all single payment entitlements so as to bring their total value into line with the ceiling that is available for 2014,” the department explained.

Working within the restrictions imposed by the regulation that governs the 2014 transition year, the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has decided that an exemption will be applied to entitlements used in 2013 for farmers whose gross payment claim under the 2013 scheme year is €5,000 or less.

According to the department, the percentage reduction to be applied has yet to be calculated but is likely to be in the region of 10 per cent.

It was also announced that no reductions will be applied to payments in 2014 under the Grassland Sheep Scheme, the Beef Data Scheme and the Burren Life Farming for Conservation Programme.

In addition, it said the number of entitlements to be allocated to a farmer in 2015 under the Basic Payment Scheme will be based on the number of hectares of eligible land declared by the farmer in 2013 and 2015, whichever is less. There are a number of further issues due to be decided under the Delegated Acts and, which also remain the subject of negotiation with the EU Commission.