The Basic Payment Scheme National Reserve was introduced in 2015 to provide support to the two mandatory priority categories of ‘young farmer’ and ‘new entrant to farming’. The eligibility conditions for the two categories supported under the National Reserve are based on the EU Regulations governing the operation of the scheme.
The scheme is intended to provide financial assistance to farmers during the period immediately following the setting up of their farming enterprise. In this regard, eligibility for the ‘new entrant’ category of the 2015 National Reserve was limited to farmers who commenced their agricultural activity in the 2013 calendar year or any later year. For the 2017 National Reserve, successful ‘new entrant’ applicants must have commenced their agricultural activity in the 2015 calendar year or any later year. The eligibility criteria for ‘new entrant’ applicants under the 2019 National Reserve is therefore consistent in requiring applicants to have commenced their agricultural activity in 2017 or any later year.
As the Terms and Conditions of the National Reserve are based on the EU Regulations governing the operation of the scheme, my Department has no discretion regarding their implementation and, as such, it is not possible to extend the eligibility criteria for the 2019 National Reserve ‘new entrant’ category to include farmers who have commenced the present agricultural activity prior to the 2017 calendar year.
The requirement for applicants to the National Reserve to have successfully completed the required agricultural education course by the closing date for receipt of applications under the scheme has been in place since the 2017 National Reserve. This requirement is based on advice Ireland received from the EU Commission to ensure the scheme fits with the annual logic of Direct Payments in order to avoid a risk of non-compliance.