Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has said that EU Commission unwilling to address farm succession and generational renewal in meaningful way – Carthy
Speaking from Brussels, Matt Carthy said:
“The average age of farmers in Ireland is 57-years-old, with the number of farmers under 40 decreasing year on year. The same is true all over Europe, where almost one third of farm holders are over the age of 65.
“Despite this, there has been no long-term EU or national policy to tackle this issue and there are a whole myriad of factors exacerbating this situation. Today Commissioner Hogan has presented his proposals for a CAP post-2020, however there is again a gaping hole with regard to generational renewal.
“Land regulations, taxation, inheritance law and territorial planning can only go so far in solving this problem. And the statistics we have are clearly telling us that they’re not getting bringing us in the right direction.
“In June, the Minister launched the registration of succession farm partnerships, supposedly as a flagship scheme to encourage generational renewal. But looking at the terms of the scheme you’d have to wonder what kind of assessment the Minister took before announcing the scheme.
“The scheme launched over the summer offers tax incentives of €25,000 over a 5 year period. However with average farm income in Ireland only €24,060, this scheme will mean nothing for the majority of farmers. Most farmers simply aren’t earning enough for their product and work for these kinds of incentives to make sense.
“Farm incomes are reaching dangerously low levels and it is no wonder that as farmers get older they are inclined to hold on to their land as a form of financial security.
“With only 10% of farmers in Ireland aged under 40, it vital that generational renewal strategies be a central part of the CAP post 2020. And the Minister and Commissioner Hogan have got to get to grips with this situation, or witness the complete decline of the sector.
“The Commissioner’s plans for Erasmus exchange for young farmers will be completely redundant if there are no young farmers to take part.
“During the last CAP reform, a first installation grant was one option given to Member States to include in their Rural Development Programmes. The Irish Government did not seize this opportunity, therefore an EU-wide grant in the new CAP would be welcome.
“However, generational renewal strategies must create incentives to support both the farmer and the successor, taking into account the precarious position a retiring farmer puts himself in when he eventually gives up his land. Farm partnerships are an excellent way to ease exit from farming, however Minister Creed’s current scheme is doing nothing to ensure financial stability for farmers.
“Declining farming income must be part of the conversation here, and it is extremely disappointing that today’s Communication fails to address that”.