Young Farmers Clubs of Ulster (YFCU) President Martyn Blair has confirmed to Agriland that he is still awaiting confirmation from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) regarding the full eligibility criteria that will be established for the new young farmers’ support scheme, which will be introduced next year.

“The most critical issue is that of ascertaining whether or not Brussels will recognise a 50:50 partnership within a family business as a ‘head of holding’ arrangement for the purposes of the new initiative.

“Farm Minister Michelle O’Neill visited our farm a number of weeks back, at which stage she confirmed her support for the new scheme being made available to those young people having real decision making power within a farm business. And, on that basis, she was happy to discuss the issue of a 50: 50 partnership with the European Commission.

“It is also interesting to note that the main farming organisations throughout the UK have now identified the significance of the 50:50 partnership issue, recognising it as a vitally important policy measure which will help to drive the farming industry as a whole forward.”

The YFCU President also indicated that DARD will shortly confirm those courses and qualifications which, up to this point, cover the Level 2 qualification required by those farmers seeking to secure access to the new funding measures.

“This is crucially important as it will allow young farmers to gauge whether they need to secure additional qualifications. I have also been told that DARD will have sufficient resources put in place to meet the requirements of those young farmers who need to attend the new training courses, which will be rolled out over the coming months.

He concluded: “All of this I welcome. But the clock is ticking. And there is a need to have all of the new young farmer support measures bedded down as quickly as possible.”