Written answers

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Common Agricultural Policy

Photo of Rose Conway-WalshRose Conway-Walsh (Mayo, Sinn Fein)
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140. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the new measures in his proposed CAP strategic plan that will support young farmers and generational renewal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16869/22]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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The challenge of generational renewal is widely recognised both at national and EU level with the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) citing it as one of its nine key objectives.

Food Vision 2030, the new stakeholder-led strategy for the agri-food sector, also highlights the challenge of generational renewal and proposes a number of actions, including maintaining the strong level of current support, the promotion of land mobility & succession planning and increased education and promotion of the diversity of careers in the agri-food sector.

This reflects the need to ensure a vibrant agricultural sector equipped with skilled and innovative young farmers to respond to societal demands for quality food and environmental public goods. Generational renewal is critical to ensure a bright future for the agri-food sector. We must ensure we take every step to support our young farmers to ensure the best and the brightest enter the sector and can flourish.

As the Deputy may be aware, there are a range of measures both in the existing CAP and at national level that support younger farmers and facilitate generational renewal. Under the current CAP, the Young Farmers Scheme with payments of €120m benefitting over 8,000 farmers each year, and the National Reserve with €38 million allocated since 2015, provide financial support to young farmers during the crucial early years of setting up a farm enterprise.

Additionally, under the TAMS II Young Farmer Capital Investment Scheme, young farmers can avail of a 60% grant rate as compared to the standard rate of 40% and over €150m has been paid to over 6,000 young farmers to date. Additional support to young farmers is provided under the Collaborative Farming Grant Scheme. These partnership structures are further supported through the availability of a tax credit at national level of €25,000 over five years to assist with the transfer of farms within “Succession Farm Partnerships”, promoting and supporting the earlier intergenerational transfer of family farms.

In addition, at national level, strong taxation measures assist land mobility and facilitate succession and are worth some €200 million per annum. Long-Term Leasing Income Tax Relief has been an important driver of land mobility by providing access to land and security of tenure for younger farmers and a route to retirement for older farmers. Almost 11,000 beneficiaries were supported under this measure in 2018 costing €27.2 million.

On access to finance, the Future Growth Loan Scheme was developed with assisting young farmers among its objectives and has been in great demand, with some 1,300 loans to the value of €150 million sanctioned to farmers.

In addition, Teagasc's education activities continue to focus on equipping young farmers with the necessary knowledge to build successful careers.

In terms of the new CAP Strategic Plan (CSP), as the Deputy will be aware, my Department and I have been actively engaging with stakeholders throughout the process of developing the new plan. The draft CAP Strategic Plan is currently under consideration by the European Commission. Over the month of March, my Department has hosted a series of information meetings to inform farmers of the changes proposed in the CAP from 2023. More information including a recent webinar and an online calculator for changes to direct payments is available online on my Department's website.

Under the draft CSP proposals, Ireland will implement the Young Farmers’ Scheme in the new CAP programme, dedicating some 3% of the direct payments ceiling to help young farmers establish their farming businesses. This allocation of approximately €35m per year will see qualifying young farmers benefit on a per hectare basis which will be more advantageous to young farmers than the current system, which was linked to payment entitlements.

The proposed rate will significantly increase from approximately €70/ha in the current programme to over €170/ha, with a maximum payment area of 50 hectares and payment on all eligible hectares, even those without corresponding entitlements. In tandem with this, we will also implement the National Reserve in each year of the new CAP to fund at a minimum the mandatory categories of young farmers and new entrants to farming.

In addition, a higher grant rate for qualified young farmers is proposed under the capital investment measure proposed under the CSP. The CSP will also continue to provide support for collaborative farming and will propose innovative ways to advise older farmers on succession and retirement options, which will increase the availability of land for younger farmers.

I am committed to supporting initiatives to facilitate generational renewal and will continue to engage with stakeholders to find the best approaches to support young farmers to ensure a bright future for the sector.


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