Major change needed on how we fund national reserve

The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association is calling for a major overhaul in the funding of the national reserve. INHFA National Chair Vincent Roddy outlined how he believed a fund of €13million is needed to cover the needs of young farmers, new entrants and the forgotten farmer group. While the obvious solution in delivering this funding stated Roddy “would be through a linear cut of just over 1% to the Basic Payment, however it is unlikely the Minister will do this which means other options need to be considered”

There are continued Roddy “three viable options open to the Minister in delivering funding for a reserve.

• The first which can deliver in excess of €5million is to reduce all payments to €100,000 as agreed in the Program for Government”

• The second option he added “is to take a linear cut of 0.5% from the Basic Payment which would amount to €6million and replace it with the unused €5 million presently in the Young Farmer Top-up, which we understand cannot be used directly to fund the reserve”

• The final option relates to the transfer of Basic Payment entitlements. In 2016 over €19million of entitlements was transferred through leasing, while only €27,986 was transferred through the sale of entitlements without land.When you assess these figures stated Roddy “it is quite clear that the 50% claw-back on the sale of entitlements without land is forcing farmers to use the leasing option”

What the INHFA are proposing is firstly a reduction in the claw-back on the sale of entitlements to 20% and secondly limit the number of years that a farmer can lease out their entitlements to two years. By adopting these measures those with excess entitlements will be forced to sell or risk losing them. This stated Roddy “will ensure that these entitlements goes to active farmers and not be a pension plan for sofa farmers”

He concluded by emphasising how important it is that the Minister outlines his intention on the National Reserve in the next week as farmers need time to plan.