Written Answers. - Farm Retirement Scheme.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

358 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development if his Department is currently carrying out a survey on applicants who are involved in the EU farm retirement pension scheme; the reasons behind such a survey; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19151/00]

My Department is not carrying out any survey of participants in the scheme of early retirement from farming at present. However, compliance checks on scheme participants are being carried out as normal. These checks are necessary to ensure that both transferors and transferees are complying with the terms and conditions of the scheme.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

359 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development the conditions for the participation in the European Union farm retirement pension scheme by an incoming farmer; the number of hours off-farm employment he is allowed to have; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19152/00]

Under the new scheme of early retirement from farming, there will be no specific provision relating to hours worked on or off the farm. The relevant criterion is one of viability; a farming transferee must succeed the transferor as a head of an agricultural holding which must be at least five hectares of utilisable agricultural area, and must meet the viability threshold of at least 50 income units of which at least 20 income units must be derived from farming owned/leased land.

The transferee must undertake to practise farming on all the pension lands, and must farm them for a period of five years or for as long as the pension is granted to the transferor, whichever is the greater. He or she must, unless participating in the rural environmental protection scheme, undertake to follow good farming practice.

The transferee must, for applications that are received in the period up to and including 31 December 2001, be between his or her 18th and 45th birthdays at the date an application is received. The upper age limit will be reduced, by one year at a time, to 40 by the end of December 2005.

If born before 1 January 1975, the transferee must have been engaged in farming for at least five years. If born on or after that date, he or she must have a minimum of three years farming experience and have satisfactorily completed a course of training in agriculture or horticulture of at least 180 hours. He or she must have an upper non-farm income limit of not more than 100 units in the tax year prior to receipt of the application, must have a herd/flock/cereal number and must provide a personal public services number – PPSN.