Written answers

Wednesday, 18 January 2023

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Agriculture Schemes

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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1825. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason for the cut-off dates for his proposed scheme for "forgotten farmers"; if he will outline the definition of a forgotten farmer as proposed by his Department; the current status of the proposed scheme; if it will involve the reallocation of farm entitlements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1097/23]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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I have long supported the cohort of farmers known as the forgotten farmers and I have committed to supporting them who find themselves, in many cases, in this situation through no fault of their own.

Since the time the Department was first approached with regard to the group commonly referred to as forgotten farmers, the group was defined as young farmers who were under the age of 40 in 2015, had established their holdings prior to 2008 and held no or low value payment entitlements. 

My Department has developed a preliminary outline of a proposal to provide support to the forgotten farmer group.  There are a number of issues to be addressed, for example,  the funding required and consistency with the public expenditure, before the details of the eligibility requirements and benefits to successful applicants under a scheme can be finalised. 

Details of the scheme will be made available as soon as this process has been completed. I am committed to delivering for these farmers as quickly as possible.

Photo of Niall CollinsNiall Collins (Limerick County, Fianna Fail)
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1826. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when the measures under budget 2023 to address the group of farmers known as "forgotten farmers" will be implemented; if the farmers affected were consulted in the process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1136/23]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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I am committed to supporting the cohort of farmers known as the forgotten farmers. Many of these farmers have found themselves in this situation through no fault of their own.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has developed a preliminary outline of a proposal to provide support to the group of farmers commonly referred to as forgotten farmers.

There are a number of issues to be addressed, before the details of the eligibility requirements and benefits to successful applicants under a scheme can be finalised. 

My Department has received representations from Public Representatives, farming bodies and from individual prospective applicants with regard to the forgotten farmer issue.

I want to step this out this support for the forgotten farmers as quickly as possible.

Photo of Seán CanneySeán Canney (Galway East, Independent)
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1827. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a person who has been willed a farm holding as a sole beneficiary but probate has not yet been completed can participate in the ACRES scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1138/23]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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In preparation for the launch of ACRES, my Department undertook a review of operational and contractual issues that could potentially impact on scheme delivery and farmer participation. This review concluded that, while it is important to support the broadest possible spectrum of farmer participation, there were difficulties with cases going through probate.

Under EU regulations, the Department is obliged to ensure that contracts offered remain active and fully managed for a minimum contract term of five years. ACRES is a five-year commitment which requires the identification of land parcels, actions and the person responsible for contract delivery at the application stage.

Where succession questions are outstanding, it is unclear at application or approval stage with whom the Department would be contracting in the longer term, and who will have final control of the land entering the scheme. For this reason, ACRES applications cannot be accepted on land which is currently the subject of probate.

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