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Minister Smith Confirms Arrangements for Dealing with Farm Retirement Scheme Applications

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today confirmed his Department's arrangements for processing applications for the Scheme of Early Retirement from Farming, which were submitted in September and October 2009.

The Minister said that when he re-opened the Early Retirement Scheme (ERS) in September 2009, his priority was to accommodate those farmers who had been on the point of applying for the Scheme when it was closed in October 2008.

Over 170 applications were received by the deadline of 31 October 2009. Out of these, a small number were rejected because vital supporting documentation was missing and the applications did not meet the scheme conditions. The Minister said that "in the majority of cases, the applicants appeared, on preliminary examination, to meet the scheme conditions and I am pleased to announce that these will be processed fully and, provided that they comply with the requirements of the scheme, would qualify for payment of pensions."  The Department will be in touch with the successful applicants shortly.

The Minister said that there are also a number of applicants in which the prospective transferees are required, under the terms of the ERS, to be accepted into the Young Farmers' Installation Scheme (YFIS). However, as YFIS is closed, they are not in a position to satisfy this requirement. The Minister said that, "rather than exclude these applications, I have decided to give the transferees concerned the opportunity to obtain additional land to enlarge the retiring farmers' holdings and to qualify for the scheme on that basis."

The Minister added that "in such cases, the retiring farmer will become eligible for pension from the date on which a valid revised application is received. All in all, I believe this is a fair and reasonable solution in these cases. My officials will be in direct contact with all the applicants in this group shortly to explain what needs to be done to ensure eligibility for the ERS."

Note for editors: 

The amount of additional land required is a minimum of 5 hectares. It may be owned, leased or rented and must be the subject of an annual Single Payment Scheme application by the transferee for a minimum of five years. (Where the retiring farmer's enterprise is an intensive one, the requirement is not for additional land but for a minimum of 5 additional production units.)

Date Released: 05 February 2010