Macra na Feirme recently launched its policy paper “CAP 2020 – Young Farmer Road Map for Generational Renewal” which calls for all CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) 2020 measures to be young farmer proofed and have a specific young farmer focus to aid generational renewal which the EU Commission has outlined as a key priority for CAP 2020.
Speaking at the recent launch of the paper both in Brussels and Dublin, Macra na Feirme National President Seán Finan said, “Macra na Feirme is calling for a minimum of 10% of the total CAP budget be dedicated toward young farmer measures. We need a young farmer proof CAP post 2020 which contains a top up for all young farmers under 40 on all CAP and Rural Development measures.”
The Macra na Feirme policy paper has been presented to the EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan and members of the European Parliament, the European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA) in Brussels and members of Dail Eireann here. The policy paper represents the views of approximately 1000 young farmers who engaged in a series of face to face consultation meetings and answered an online survey questionnaire.
Macra na Feirme and young farmers are concerned about the CAP budget and the threat it faces from Brexit and other political circumstances.
Speaking about the CAP budget Seán Finan said, “As young farmers we are worried about the impact on the CAP Budget as a result of Brexit. We call on the EU Commission and European Institutions to find mechanisms that ensure that the current budget is maintained. Young farmers should not be disadvantaged in any way by a political decision that was not of their making”
The Macra na Feirme policy paper contains proposed changes to the young farmer definition including the abolition of the five year rule and a mandatory agricultural education requirement for all young farmers be applied in all members states. 85% of young farmers have said that young farmers should have completed an agricultural education to receive a CAP payment.
Sean Finan stated that, “76% of young farmers have said that the five year rule should be abolished. In the current CAP programme the five year rule is creating two tiers of young farmers, with those in their first five years of farming receiving all the benefits from CAP and those farming longer than five years are reaping none of the rewards of the CAP Young farmer’s measures. This is not equitable and is resulting in young farmers competing with each other.”
To offset the establishment costs, the Macra na Feirme policy contains details of a mandatory start-up aid package for young farmers. Start-up aid would be available for vouched expenditure and necessary capital inputs and investments at establishment. Once established Macra na Feirme is calling for a mandatory young farmer top-up for all young farmers up to the age of 40 who meet the young farmer definition criteria as well as a continuously funded National Reserve to provide young farmers under the age of 40 with national average payments.
Sean Finan concluded, “If the EU Commission is committed to supporting the needs of young farmers and changing the age profile of Irish and European Agriculture then CAP 2020 needs to be young farmer proofed and all our proposals implemented”
Full details of the Macra na Feirme policy are available at www.macra.ie/downloads