For Oral Answer on : 15/07/2021
Question Number(s): 45 Question Reference(s): 38549/21
Department: Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine the incentives in place to encourage young persons to take up farming as a career; the enrolment trends for the respective agricultural colleges for the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The challenge of generational renewal is widely recognised both at national and EU level. I personally support young farmers and see the need for generational renewal. This is critical to ensure a bright future for the agri-food sector. The new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has cited generational renewal as one of the nine key objectives reflecting the need to ensure a vibrant agricultural sector equipped with skilled and innovative young farmers to respond to societal demands for quality food and environmental public goods.
There are a number of supports currently available under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and these are complemented by a suite of national measures.
Under the current CAP, the National Reserve and the Young Farmers Scheme (YFS) provide financial support to young farmers during the crucial early years when setting up a farm enterprise, with payments of €110m benefitting over 8,000 farmers each year under the YFS. A further €35 million has been allocated since 2015 to young farmers under the National Reserve. Additionally, under the TAMS II Young Farmer Capital Investment Scheme, young farmers can avail of a 60% grant rate as compared to the standard rate of 40% with over €133m paid to over 5,000 farmers under the scheme.
At national level, there is a suite of taxation measures, both to facilitate succession and to support establishment, worth some €200 million per annum. The Future Growth Loan Scheme has also provided a source of finance for young farmers.
Teagasc’s education activities continue to focus on equipping young farmers with the necessary knowledge to build successful careers. Teagasc data shows that a cumulative 16,700 students have enrolled in their Agricultural Colleges from 2016-2020, with an average of just over 3,300 each year. For the current year, there has been a strong flow of applications, but the final enrolment position will not be clear until after the CAO offers are made in late August and early September.
Supporting young farmers continues to be a priority and I will continue to actively engage on this issue.