YFCU chief welcomes simplified applications

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YFCU president Roberta Simmons has welcomed the decision by DAERA to simplify the Young Farmers’ Payment/Regional Reserve (YFP/RR) application process for 2017.

“Quite a number of young farmers had their applications returned last year, such was the complicated process that had to be followed through. As a result, a proportion of these were not ratified at all,” she said.

“The requirement to supply large numbers of accompanying documents was extremely challenging and this may have put some young farmers from applying at all.”

Simmons added: “The application process for 2017 is much more streamlined. I would, therefore, encourage, as many young farmers as possible who are eligible to apply, to do so this year.

“This payment is made in the crucial years following the young farmer establishing the holding and has the potential to play a major role in the regeneration of agriculture in Northern Ireland and provide a solid basis for the industry in the coming years. This payment is indeed to encourage generational renewal in agriculture and improve farm productivity.

“There is also no doubt that the aims of the scheme are to encourage farm businesses to consider succession planning, which we have been working very hard on in the YFCU over the past few years.”

Each year the Department reviews how it implemented schemes previously and looks for opportunities to streamline the application and assessment process.

During 2016 there were a number of queries raised by applicants, their agents and local representatives regarding the contents of business partnership agreement documents which had been provided as supporting evidence by applicants to the YFP/RR.

However, a number of agreement documents provided contained additional conditions which in the Department’s view, supported by legal opinion where necessary, meant the applicants could not comply with the scheme requirements.

This led to a number of rejections and subsequent follow-up enquiries which impacted on processing of all applications.

In order to simplify the process for 2017 applicants it has been decided that those who operate their business as either a partnership or as a multi-member business will no longer have to provide a partnership document as part of their supporting evidence. Instead, they will be asked to complete the attached declaration.

This will be included in the 2017 YFP/RR Form. It must be completed by all members of the business and countersigned by an acceptable accountant or by a solicitor.

As was the case last year, the 2017 YFP/RR Form and other supporting evidence must be presented, by applicants, at their DAERA office.

Full details of the application and evidence requirements are set out in the 2017 YFP/RR Guidance and Form, which is now available on the DAERA website.