Axis 1 Measures
See the section on EU Law, which requires rural development strategies for the EU budgetary cycles 2007 to 2013. The following sets out a brief overview of the Irish measures for 2007-13.
Axis 1 is aimed at improving competitiveness in the agricultural sector.
The objectives include
- providing training in relation to Agri environmental requirements
- to optimise delivery, encourage the transfer of holdings to young farmers,
- support capital improvements in farm structures.
The Vocational Training and Information action is a measure designed to provide participants with information on economic benefits from the agri-environment and NATURA 2000 measures. It is designed to equip farmers with the knowledge and skills to implement comprehensive environmental strategies.
It proposes to give 300 courses per year and 600 modular courses per year for participants in agri-environment measures and NATURA 2000 measures under axis 2. Support is available at a set rate for participation and the courses must be approved by the Department.
Young farmer’s installation scheme is designed to encourage and incentivise people to pursue a career in farming. They are assisted with certain setup costs and provides a mechanism for encouraging investment on farms. Its objectives are to achieve the transfer of land to young trained farmers.
Applicants must be between 18 and 35 years. They must set up on at least 20 hectares outside of a less favoured area or 15hectates in a less favoured area for a period of seven years. They must have a herd number or other Department identifier. Certain kinds of enterprises do not require other minimum land areas.
The business plan must provide for compliance with existing community standards within 36 months. It must describe
- the present state of the holding
- details of the proposed training investment and advice, and other activities required for the development
- indication of three development options from a list of such options.
A review is carried out by the Department in the fifth year following setup. The amount of support may be up to €15,000 on completion of education, property and income requirements. This is paid by a single payment and up to 4,200 farmers were foreseen to qualify.
Early Retirement Scheme
The early retirement scheme complements the setting up of young farmers. It encourages the transfer from older farmers to younger trained farmers and the transfer of land to established farmers who wish to enlarge their holdings.
The scheme encompasses an annual pension to eligible applicants for up to 10 years. The beneficiaries may be transferors, farm workers and transferees. Transferors must be between 55 and 66.
Pension payments will not be made after their 66th birthday. They must have practised farming for at least 10 years before They must have farmed at least 5 hectares. They must undertake to cease all agricultural activities.
The transferee must be approved for payment under the young farmer’s installation scheme, be less than 35 and succeed the transferor asset of a holding of at least 20 hectares.
There are alternative conditions for a farmer transferee who is less than 45
- farming at least 5 hectares and
- on completion of land transfer enlargement, farms at least 20 hectares,
- be compliant with off-farm income ceiling of €50,000 and
- meet educational requirements.
Alternatively, he may be a farmer who fulfils the following conditions.
- be approved as a transferee under a previous early retirement scheme,
- be between 45 and 50,
- farming five hectares and enlarge that holding by becoming a transferee.
- on completion of the transfer and enlargement hold 20 hectares (15 less favourable area).
A farm worker may qualify
- on submission of an application by the transferor
- be aged between 55 and 66.
- have devoted at least half of his working time to farm work during the preceding five years as a family helper or farm worker,
- have worked in the transferor’s agriculture holding for at least two years full time during the previous four years and
- belong to a social security scheme.
The early retirement scheme is a supplement. It takes account of national retirement pensions to which the transferor is entitled. Applicants must have applied for any normal retirement pension age payable by the state to which they are entitled.
If they become entitled to a pension after taking up the scheme, they must notify the matter to the Department. The total aid for early retirement support cannot exceed 10 years. It goes to age 66 at maximum.
The pension is a flat €9,300 per annum for the first five hectares plus €300 per hectare thereafter to a maximum of 24 hectares. The maximum is €15,000 annually.
Farm Modernisation Scheme
The farm modernisation scheme seeks to make the agricultural sector more competitive and market-orientated. It seeks to promote higher quality and greater efficiency in farming, to promote diversification of activities including horse breeding and provide other sources of agricultural income.
It seeks to promote higher standards of animal welfare and protection of health and safety in Irish farms. It seeks to ensure higher environmental standards and reduce greenhouse gases from the agricultural sector.
The scheme is open to all farmers with minimum educational requirements or farming experience. Farmers in all sectors are eligible to participate regardless of income. The investments include the following
- animal housing and handling and related facilities,
- sheep handling and weighing facilities,
- investments regarding diversification of farm enterprises including handling facilities, exercise areas and fencing for horses, their breeding, production, dairy hygiene investment,
- investments designed to improve animal welfare standards including conversion of farm housing to meet animal welfare standards, installation of water storage equipment for the recycling of rainwater, installations to improve occupational safety on farm grain storage.
The grant is based on a percentage of the eligible expenditure subject to a maximum ceiling. In the case of farm improvement, a 40 percent standard grant rate with top up rate of 10 percent for young farmers applies with an overall ceiling of €120,000 per holding.
There is a separate €120,000 ceiling per holding for investments in relation to dairy hygiene. They must establish eligible expenditure
- 20 percent or 40 percent grant for mobile equipment depending on the type of equipment
- 40 percent for the installation of manure processing facilities to a maximum of €1 million euro per holding
- 40 percent of expenditure on protection of pigs up to €300,000
The modernisation of agricultural holding scheme seeks to ensure that the agricultural sector becomes more competitive. The scheme assists in establishment costs for new dairy farmers and dairy farmers who wish to expand and improve efficiency by support and capital investment in establishing and upgrading dairy facilities. The scheme focuses on machinery equipment, cooling, refrigeration and storage equipment.
There are targeted provisions for the following
- Sheep farmers with active breeding flock; grant aid is provided for sheep fencing and mobile handling facilities.
- There is incentives for pig welfare measures. This is to assist existing pig farmers in the conversion from existing systems to comply with animal welfare requirements.
- There is scheme for poultry farmers with capital required to convert barn systems.
- The scheme for investment in water conservation. This provides aid for water harvesting and conservation facilities and equipment.
- There is scheme for bioenergy targeted at tillage and dry stock to plant willow and miscanthus. Grant aid is provided in the form of setup assistance. The willow and miscanthus sequester carbon relative to crops they replace.
The dairy investment scheme is open to dairy farmers who satisfy the education and training requirements of new entrant scheme, the milk quota trading scheme, who receive the milk quota allocation and who have holdings of lands owned or leased and have a separate and independent herd number.
The sheep investment scheme is open to beneficiaries with a flock of a certain size with preferences for disadvantaged areas.
The pig welfare scheme is open to all eligible pig producers. The poultry scheme is open to l eligible caged hen producers. The water conservation scheme is targeted at dairy farmers. The bioenergy scheme is targeted at tillage and livestock farmers.
In most of the cases grant is up to 40 percent of cost to a maximum amount.
There is scheme to provide a range of assistance for start-up food enterprises and expenditure on existing food enterprises.
- to develop innovative products and activities,
- to provide a range of assistance for adding value to food products
- to support small scale research and analysis in the local food sector.
It applies to rural areas. Support is e by way of targeted measures aimed at improving efficiency in processing and marketing.