Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has committed to finalising a scheme for the so-called “forgotten farmers” this year.

The group of farmers lost out following the removal of young farmer supports under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), such as installation aid, due to cuts in public expenditure by the government following the last recession.

In the Dáil Sinn Féin spokesperson for agriculture, Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the minister for an update on the long-awaited scheme to compensate these farmers.

“In our last round of questions back in February, the minister advised that his department was looking at establishing a system, but there is still no detail about what that scheme would look like.

“I have met with farmers who are part of this cohort known as the forgotten farmers. They are really at the end of their tether and are wondering if they should continue with their farms, so this is something that is urgently overdue,” the Roscommon-Galway TD said.

Forgotten farmers

In response, Minister McConalogue reiterated his commitment to support the forgotten farmers, adding that he will “deliver support to reflect the impact their missing out on certain payments had on their farming enterprises”.

According to analysis from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), it is estimated that there are between 3,500 and 7,000 farmers affected.

“This is a group of farmers whose members were under 40 in 2015 when the situation first came to light.

“At that point, they had already been actively farming for more than five years, meaning they were ineligible to access the national reserve in the previous CAP programme in 2015 to obtain an allocation of payment entitlements,” McConalogue said.

“Since this issue came to the fore back in 2015 and 2016, many of these farmers have already bought or rented entitlements, which is a key factor in eligibility for payments in the outgoing CAP programme and today.

“Although they now hold these entitlements, it remains that they were required to pay for them, in most instances, on the open market,” the minister added.


The department of agriculture has develop a “preliminary outline of a proposal” to provide support to the forgotten farmer group.

“The support that was initially requested by the group was for access to the national reserve, but at this point, many of these farmers now hold entitlements already.

“In this regard, work continues on addressing a number of issues, such as the requirements for the type and level of supports that are required, the funding required and consistency with public expenditure and state aid considerations.

“I am committed to stepping this out and delivering for these farmers within the term of this government,” Minister McConalogue said.

However, Deputy Kerrane said the forgotten farmers need certainty that a scheme is forthcoming.

“In a number of weeks, we will be going into summer recess. We will be coming back for the budget. By the sounds of things, there is no detailed scheme in place with regard to what this will look like.

“There is no funding in place either, and the minister has committed that it will be done before the end of this term of government, which is now a matter of months away,” she said.

Minister McConalogue said that his focus over the past year has been getting the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) programme “up and running”.

Along with the budgetary aspect of a scheme for the forgotten farmers, he said that an IT system would be needed “to identify all the farmers accurately and to deliver the final scheme”.

“That work is ongoing and it will take a number of months to work through that,” he said.

“This is a legacy issue that goes back more than ten years, that I am committed to finalising, and that I will do over the course of this year,” the minister added.