Local Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy has hit out at the Minister for Agriculture for changing the criteria needed to access direct payments under CAP this year.
Explaining the issue Eugene Murphy said that the Minister is now insisting that young farmers must have completed a recognised FETAC level 6 course in agriculture before they can apply for funding. Up until now farmers were eligible to apply once they had taken up a place on a relevant agricultural course.
Deputy Murphy said “I have been contacted by young farmers throughout the Roscommon/Galway constituency who are extremely worried about the impact of this change. This new rigid criteria means that many of them will now not be eligible for essential payments under the 2017 National Reserve and Young Farmers’ Scheme.
“Under, CAP Regulation 1307/2013 Member States have flexibility in defining the eligibility criteria for young farmers, and the Minister’s decision to change the educational requirements is questionable as it only serves to exclude young farmers from important funding streams.
“Minister Creed must reconsider the changes he has implemented. I am calling on him to ensure that those who are currently enrolled in agriculture courses are included and to extend the upcoming deadline for those in this situation to facilitate them in making applications.
“Fianna Fáil understands the importance of sustaining and supporting the next generation of farmers. Farming faces a serious demographic challenge as the bulk of the agricultural workforce grows older and retires and it is essential that young men and women are encouraged to continue working on the land,” concluded Deputy Murphy.