Many younger farmers have been excluded from the new rules governing the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS), according to Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture Éamon Ó Cuív.

He says despite an announcement by Minister Simon Coveney that younger farmers would receive priority access to the TAMS scheme, the EU rules agreed by the Minister has excluded a large number of farmers under the age of 40.

Ó Cuív says given the very low number of young farmers entering the industry, every effort should to be made to incentivise the next generation to make a livelihood in the sector.

He believes places should be reserved for all young farmers, including those who established holdings prior to 2008 under the general TAMS scheme, not just those who qualify under the Rural Development Programme as “young farmers”.

Generally, a large number of young farmers who are under 40 years of age will not get priority access to the farm improvement grant due to the strict eligibility criteria associated with the definition of ‘young farmer’.

O Cuiv also said there is also a large number of farmers under the age of 40, who started farming before 2008 who describe themselves as “forgotten farmers”.

“They also have a strong case for more fair play. The Minister must act and ensure that this group of young farmers are brought into the TAMS scheme and not left out in the cold,” he said.

The Young Farmers Capital Investment Scheme under TAMS II was launched on May 14 with in the region of 4,000 applications from farmers set to be accepted.

According to the Department of Agriculture a budget of €120m has been made available to the Scheme over the full RDP period which will enable 4,000 applications at an average of €30,000 per grant.

The closing date for applications under the first tranche of the Scheme is August 28, 2015.