The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has said that he will provide more detail on the long-awaited scheme for ‘forgotten farmers’ before the end of March.

There are an estimated 4,000 farmers who lost out on vital financial supports due to cuts in public expenditure by the government following the last recession.

These ‘forgotten farmers’ had typically set up their agricultural holdings before 2008 and were under 40 in 2015 but did not qualify for Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) supports.

Minister Charlie McConalogue previously told the Macra annual conference in October that he would confirm details of a scheme in the “coming weeks”.

This depended on the green light being given by the Department of Public Expenditure.

During the Macra conference, the minster suggested that the new scheme would be aimed at farmers who meet the following criteria:

  • Did not benefit from installation aid;
  • Were aged no more than 40 in 2015;
  • Had required the level 6 qualification by 2015;
  • Had submitted a Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) application in 2015;
  • Did not benefit previously under the national reserve in BPS or Single Payment Scheme (SPS) under any category;
  • Had set up as head of agricultural holding before 2008.

However, Macra national president, John Keane has said that he has yet to meet a forgotten farmer who meets any of the six criteria outlined by the minister.

Forgotten farmers

During the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) Farming and Climate Summit in Limerick yesterday (Tuesday, January 10), Minister Charlie McConalogue told Agriland that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) are still developing the scheme.

“We’re continuing to work on it. It’s complex, there’s a lot of different aspects and strands to it. We’re committed to doing it and the team are continuing to work on it.

“I gave some clarity at the Macra AGM (annual general meeting) in terms of the lines of thinking.

“It will take time, it won’t be a fast process but certainly over the course of the next short period – this quarter – I hope to give a lot more detail in relation to the scheme and how we can step it out and implement it,” McConalogue said.