Welcome for finalised young farmer scheme

YFCU President Martyn Blair (left) chatting to broadcaster Richard Wright at the launch of his organisation's response to the new Young Farmer Support scheme
YFCU President Martyn Blair (left) chatting to broadcaster Richard Wright at the launch of his organisation's response to the new Young Farmer Support scheme

The Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster (YFCU) has responded officially to the new DARD guidelines, relating to the implementation of the new EU Young Farmers’ Programme.

Organisation President Martyn Blair said that he welcomed the tremendous commitment made by Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill and the Department of Agriculture’s Policy Division to secure agreement from Brussels on a series of new support measures, which specifically meet the needs of young farmers in Northern Ireland.

“We have met the Minister and her staff on a number of occasions over the past twelve months on this specific issue. And I want to highlight their willingness to take on board the proposals made by YFCU on this crucially important issue,” he added.

“I particularly welcome the commitment made by the Minister to secure official acceptance from Brussels to the effect that 50:50 partnerships will be accepted under the new arrangements, provided that the young farmer can make such decisions without veto from the other partner.”

The YFCU president stressed that the new Young Farmer support measures relate to the operation of a farm business: not land ownership.

“This is an issue which I would like to clarify from the outset,” he stressed.

“Owning land has absolutely no bearing on the running of a farm business. I am aware that the issue of land ownership can be a very sensitive one within farm families. However, it is an issue which has no linkage, whatsoever, to the attainment of the young farmer top-up under the new CAP support measures.”

Martyn Blair is advising all young farmers and other farm family members to read the advisory booklet produced by DARD entitled: Young Farmers’ Payment 2015.

“It is also crucially important for those wanting to apply for the new top-up to speak with their bank accountant, solicitor, bank manager and CAFRE advisor. And the sooner this is done the better,” he added.

“I welcome the decision taken by DARD to open the new scheme up for both applications and the submission of registration information on the part of young farmers on March 15.

“This will provide potential applicants with a two month window to compile all the information they need for their claims.”

The YFCU president also confirmed that his organisation will be hosting a public event in partnership with DARD to profile the new Young Farmer Scheme in early March.

“The date of this meeting will be agreed over the coming days, however, the venue will be Loughry College,” he said.

“Minister O’Neill has said that she wants the £6.5 million annual top up scheme going to genuine young farmers. This is a view wholly endorsed by YFCU.”

The YFCU participates in a wide range of stakeholder activities on behalf of both young farmers and rural youth.

These include the implementation of the new Rural Development Programme, benchmarking, the improvement of farm safety standards; working with schools and committing on a proactive basis to the open farm weekend programme.

“We also take a leading role in a range of farmer health and rural crime prevention related matters,” Martyn Blair concluded.

“And we want to build on all of this for the future.”

For further information, contact the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster on (028) 370713.