Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo Lisa Chambers says the Agriculture Minister is unfairly penalising young farmers by changing the eligibility criteria for CAP payments.  These changes will exclude young farmers who have yet to complete their agriculture courses, even if they have signed up for them.

Deputy Chambers commented, “Minister Creed’s decision to bring in these changes reveal just how out of touch he is with young farmers.  Instead of encouraging a new generation of farmers, he is now actively putting roadblocks in their way and making it more difficult for them to qualify for CAP funding.

“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.   Not only will this delay farmers from applying for the CAP funding, there are large parts of the country where there are currently no Green Cert courses being held.  How can a farmer get a qualification if they can’t even get on a course?  This is a ridiculous situation.

“The Minister’s claim that this new educational criteria is as a result of EU regulations is deeply disingenuous as each country gets to define its own criteria.  The fact of the matter is that young farmers in Mayo and right across the country are being unfairly penalised as Minister attempts to exclude them from essential EU funding.

“I am calling on Minister Creed to reconsider these changes, especially given the fact that some young farmers do not have access to these courses because of staff shortages in Teagasc.  He needs to ensure that any young farmer enrolled on an agriculture course is eligible for the Young Farmers Scheme and the National Reserve.

“Fianna Fáil understands the importance of sustaining and supporting the next generation of farmers.  They are the primary custodians of the land and it is imperative that farming families are encouraged to continue their business so that our agriculture sector can continue to thrive”, concluded Deputy Chambers.