The National Reserve for young farmers has been provisionally approved to continue for 2022 – with conditions around maximum hectares and off-farm income being removed.

Macra na Feirme welcomed the move, following a meeting today (Thursday, October 7) between agricultural stakeholders and officials from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Stakeholders were advised that the department had recommended to Minister Charlie McConalogue that the reserve be continued for 2022. The implementation of this recommendation is subject to ministerial approval.

In the meeting, stakeholders were also advised that the conditions on off-farm income and the cap on maximum number of hectares will be removed, with all other conditions remaining.

The National Reserve provides top-up payments to young farmers and new entrant farmers. Up to now, farmers had to have a gross off-farm income of less than €40,000 to be eligible.

Furthermore, payments under the reserve had been subject to a limit of 90ha.

“This announcement is welcome news, as the National Reserve is of huge importance to young farmers and new entrants. The removal of certain conditional criteria offers additional much needed support for young Irish farmers,” said Macra national president John Keane.

Macra also said that stakeholders were told that the reserve will be made mandatory in the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

“Macra has long been pushing for the continuation of the National Reserve and are delighted to know that our hard-work has paid off. The National Reserve is an important policy instrument to help young farmers to establish themselves within the sector,” Keane added.

In 2020, some €3.6 million was paid out from the reserve.

It also emerged today the the government is considering a minimum stocking density for the definition of active farmers in the next CAP.

Although such a plan is in the early stages of development, a figure of 0.15 livestock units (LU)/ha is being considered, Agriland understands.