The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, today (Thursday, June 13) confirmed that he will seek funding for the group known as the ‘forgotten farmers’ in the next budget.

Minister McConalogue told the Dáil today that it was his objective to include a scheme for the group in the next budget.

The forgotten farmers are a group who had typically set up their agricultural holdings before 2008 and were under the age of 40 in 2015, but did not qualify for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) supports as had other young farmers at that time.

In response to a question raised on the floor by the Sinn Féin spokesperson for agriculture, Claire Kerrane, on whether he would “bring forward a solution” for the group the minister said he was committed to a “forgotten farmers scheme”.

According to analysis approximately 3,500 farmers would meet the basic definition of forgotten farmer.

Minister McConalogue

Minister McConalogue told the Dáil: “I will be engaging with the Department of Public Expenditure, National Development Plan Delivery and Reform on plotting a way forward and delivering a payment that reflects the fact that many of these farmers were not able to avail of some of the young farmers’ schemes at the time – because they were discontinued – which other farmers would have been able to avail of previously and subsequently”.

But Deputy Kerrane said the key question that needed to be answered was who exactly would be included in the scheme and what would it ultimately look like.

Minister McConalogue said: “The challenge in terms of rolling this out was the fact we were under significant pressure to develop an entirely new IT system to operate the new CAP programme, which I wanted to make sure we got right, and that we deliver schemes that are fair to farmers of all types and in all parts of the country in order that they have significant funding to underpin family farm incomes as well.

“It has always been a priority for me to make sure we deliver on it. It is a legacy issue. The first point is that I want to make sure there are no new legacy issues created through this CAP, which I think is the case, but now I want to address this legacy issue in the coming months.”

According to the minister a “lot of the preparatory work has been completed” in relation to a potential scheme for the forgotten farmers group.

“My next step is to engage in terms of securing the funding as well to step that out.

“We are now at a stage where I feel we are in a position, logistically, to be able to overlay it, having delivered the new CAP and the various schemes and given that we have the infrastructure in place,” he added.