Carthy calls on Government to introduce measures to support 'old' Young Farmers
Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has called on Minister Simon Coveney to issue reassurances to young farmers that none of them will be disenfranchised in the roll out of farm payments.
Carthy, who is a member of the European Parliament's Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee, said he shared the concern regarding the exclusion of some young farmers from the 25% top up under the new Single Farm Payment Young Farmer Scheme.
The requirements for the scheme include a farmer being under 40 years old, setting up a holding or have set up a holding in the past five years, and have successfully completed a FETAC Level 6 or equivalent in Agricultural education. The problem has arisen for those farmers who are under 40 years of age but have had a holding for more than five years. Under the current scheme they will be excluded from scheme.
Carthy, who addressed a meeting of young farmers in Athlone last Friday evening, said:
"The proposals for the scheme as they currently stand are extremely prejudicial. While I appreciate the stated purpose of the scheme is to encourage the setting up of new holdings it is unfair that individuals who have made every effort to complete requirements and are eager for opportunities to improve their farms are being punished.
"Many of those entrants to farming have been going through difficult times and, like any jobs, it is as important to retain existing positions as to create new ones.
"The fact that the Installation Aid Scheme was suspended early and many of those who would have benefited from the Installation Aid Scheme who fulfilled all educational and safety requirements at their own expense now cannot avail of the new top up scheme has further compounded the problem.
"I have submitted written questions to the European Commission in this regard. However, the responsibility rests with the government to provide the 25% top up to all young farmers. The numbers of individuals excluded is considered to be relatively small and therefore the Department could consider introducing other means of providing support to these farmers if it cannot be done through the European schemes directly".