Fianna Fáil TD Charlie McConalogue has hit out at the Minister for Agriculture for once again failing to support young farmers across the county.

The Donegal Deputy made his comments after the Minister confirmed in a Parliamentary Question that young farmers who have been farming for more than five years are being disqualified from accessing higher grants for agricultural sheds under the new TAMS scheme.

“Young farmers who have been farming more than five years are not regarded as “young” for the purposes of qualifying for various schemes under the terms of the CAP agreement negotiated by Minister Coveney.  This is grossly unfair.

“The application process for the new TAMS scheme, which provides grant aid for the construction of agriculture sheds, is clearly discriminatory.

“This discrimination can be seen clearly in the application of the new TAMS scheme which provides grant aid for the construction of agriculture sheds. Younger farmers who have been in farming for more than 5 years are not qualifying for the 60% rate of grant aid, which is available to people who have begun farming within the last 5 years. Many farmers, through no fault of their own, are being unduly penalised and are only qualifying for the 40% rate.

“Farmers under the age of 35 who have been farming for more than 5 years have been excluded from countless schemes, including the National Reserve, as a result of the Minister’s failure to ensure that they were recognised under the terms of the new CAP agreement.

“This has led to a number of younger farmers questioning their future in the industry and the viability of their farms.  This is an issue that must be revisited and addressed by the Minister to allow younger farmers to carve out a viable career in the sector.

“TAMS in principle is a good scheme that encourages and allows for investment in family farms across the county, improving infrastructure and therefore hopefully improving output. The problem is the complete policy failure with the criteria that the Minister has negotiated through the CAP.”

“I am once again calling on Minister Coveney to address this anomaly and ensure that young farmers get the supports they need to keep their businesses viable,” concluded Deputy McConalogue.