Macra na Feirme has expressed concern over the potential level of funding ringfenced for young farmers in the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

As the EU Trilogue continues on the new CAP this morning (Friday, May 28), Macra national president John Keane said yesterday (Thursday, May 27) that critical supports are needed for young farmers in any EU agreement.

Indications at present are that 3% of direct payments will be ringfenced for young farmers, a compromise on the Europeans Commission and European Parliament’s proposals.

After speaking with Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue yesterday evening, Keane said their discussion “focused on the need for supports for young farmers and I encouraged the minister to ensure that there was collective ambition within the trilogue to deliver for young farmers”.

“It is disappointing to see that only 3% of payments will go towards young farmers. Our ask – supporting that of CEJA, the European Council of Young Farmers – was for the ringfencing of 4% of payments to go to young farmers,” he added.

Keane continued: “These funds are fundamental for driving generational renewal.”

The Macra president called for this 3% figure to be viewed as a “floor-level payment”, and that it cannot be “the ceiling of payments”.

“There can be no back-sliding of payments to young farmers under the Rural Development Programme.

“Our ambition must be for significantly more supports to ensure viability for young farmers and leap-frog slow progress to date in generational renewal,” Keane remarked.

He pointed out that there are indications emerging in the talks that there may be a consensus building on the need for higher investment supports for young farmers.

“If this is agreed, it will enable our own Department of Agriculture to increase support levels for young farmers on schemes such as TAMS,” Keane noted.

“Macra na Feirme would welcome any increase over the existing 60% for on-farm investment support for young farmers. This recognises the difficulties young farmers face in accessing capital for on-farm investment and is a positive move to address that issue.”

He also welcomed the suggestion that young farmer supports could extend beyond the five-year limit currently in place in the Young Farmers Scheme.

“The abolishment of the five-year rule as been a long-standing ask of Macra,” according to Keane.

He also urged the minister to resist calls for higher levels of convergence from the European Parliament, which favours 85% convergence (as opposed to Minister McConalogue, who favours 75%).