Written answers

Wednesday, 17 May 2023

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Agriculture Schemes

Photo of Michael Healy-RaeMichael Healy-Rae (Kerry, Independent)
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184. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a suckler scheme entry will be reviewed for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23493/23]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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The objective of the Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme (SCEP) is to provide support to beef farmers to improve the environmental sustainability of the national beef herd.  The programme aims to build on the gains delivered in recent years through the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) and the Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme (BEEP) by improving the genetic merit of the Irish suckler herd.

The reference number presented for SCEP is based on historical data. This is the number of eligible suckler cows that produced an eligible calf on the holding in the years 2016-2021 inclusive. The applicant receives an average of the best three years of 2016-2021 as the reference number. 

As the person named had data (i.e. had eligible suckler cows that produced an eligible calf) in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021, he received a reference number of seven and a maximum payable area of 4.67.

As per the SCEP terms and conditions, a New Entrant to suckler farming is an applicant that commenced suckler farming since 2021, i.e calved and registered an eligible calf for the first time since 1stJanuary 2021.  Therefore, the person named is not considered as a New Entrant under SCEP.

The closing date for submission of SCEP applications is 22nd May 2023. To date, no SCEP application has been received from the person named.  If the person named wishes to have a review of his reference data, a SCEP application must be submitted online and then he can make such a request in writing to SCEP, Beef Schemes section of my Department in Portlaoise or by email to SCEP@agriculture.gov.ie , including any supporting documentation for their review.

Photo of Claire KerraneClaire Kerrane (Roscommon-Galway, Sinn Fein)
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185. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine to provide an update on his plans to introduce a farm retirement scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23495/23]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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I am a strong supporter of assisting the next generation take over the farm when the time is right to do so. The challenge of generational renewal is widely recognised both at national and EU level. There are challenges both for younger farmers becoming established and older farmers having concerns about future income, taxation issues and the retirement process.  

Food Vision 2030, our shared strategy for the agri-food sector also recognises the importance of generational renewal and proposes a number of actions. There are a range of measures in place at present, both in the new CAP and at national level, that support younger and older farmers and facilitate generational renewal.

The new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) cites generational renewal as one of its nine key objectives. Ireland’s CAP Strategic Plan 2023-2027 reaffirms our commitment to generational renewal, reflecting the need for skilled and innovative young farmers to respond to societal demands for quality food and environmental public goods. Measures include:

  • Complementary Income Support for Young Farmers (CIS-YF), formerly the Young Farmer  Scheme, with a significantly increased financial allocation of 3% of the direct payments ceiling, providing over €35m per year in funding to eligible young, trained farmers.
  • Higher grant rates of 60% under the Targeted Agriculture Modernisation Schemes (TAMS) are available for capital investment for young farmers to invest in and futureproof their farms.
  • The National Reserve provides new entitlements to those meeting the definition of a Young Farmer and provides top-ups to entitlements that are leased or bought by a Young Farmer in the years they are activated by them.  The scheme has allocated entitlements of €50m to some 10,500 young farmers since 2015.
  • The Department also continues to support and further develop collaborative farming models, with grants available for registered farm partnerships. We are also considering a new initiative for older farmers, providing financial support towards the costs incurred for independent legal and financial advice about succession planning and navigating a pathway to retirement. 
At national level there are a number of taxation measures, both to facilitate succession and to support the establishment of young farmers.
  • Succession and the early transfer of family farms is supported by Agricultural Relief from Capital Acquisitions Tax and Stamp Duty exemptions.
  • Investment and access to land are supported by 100% Stamp Duty Relief for Young Trained Farmers, 100% Stock Relief for Young Trained Farmers and Relief for Long-Term Leasing (which in particular provides a route to retirement for older farmers). In addition, the Succession Farm Partnership Scheme provides for a €25,000 tax credit over five years to further assist the transfer of land within a partnership structure to encourage earlier transfer of family farms.
In addition, the Deputy will also be aware that the Climate Action Plan 2023 includes the commitment to mobilise the recommendations of the Food Vision 2030 sectoral groupings to incentivise voluntary livestock reductions, including the development of a proposal for a dairy cow reduction or an exit scheme. This is still under consideration.

I want to ensure that the agri-food sector remains strong and sustainable into the future, and will continue to engage with stakeholders to find the best approaches to support all farmers, young and old.


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