Dáil Éireann - Volume 547 - 31 January, 2002
Written Answers. - Grant Payments.
Cecilia Keaveney Cecilia Keaveney
79. Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development the supports available to people over 35 who wish to develop a suckler cow herd; and if he will make a statement on the need to encourage people into farming. [2950/02]
Mr. Walsh Mr. Walsh
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (Mr. Walsh): The main support available to people over 35 years of age to develop a suckler cow herd is the level of payments under the EU premium system. Clearly, a strong commercial market for the steer and heifer beef derived from the offspring of suckler cows is also a major factor in the economics of suckler cow production. This market is also supported by the intervention and export refund systems.
The maximum payment under EU premium system in respect of each suckler cow and her offspring amounts to approximately €720 in the current year. This payment consists of the suckler cow premium plus the supplementary extensification premium; the special beef premium which is payable twice on 50% of the progeny, plus the extensification premium; the slaughter premium of €80 per head for the suckler cow and her male offspring; and the slaughter premium of approximately €100 on beef heifers. In addition, replacements in the suckler cow herd qualify for a top-up of €60 and dry heifers attract a supplementary premium of €75 up to a maximum of 15% of their suckler cow herd. Substantial payments are also made to suckler cow producers under the disadvantaged area compensatory allowances scheme. In addition, aid is available to  farmers who farm in an environmentally manner under REPS.
I am aware of the difficulties facing first time entrants. Land mobility is a particular problem in Ireland and occurs here mainly through inheritance. This is exemplified by the small percentage, 0.2%, of farm land sold each year. Renting, including both leasing and conacre, is an option for these wishing to enter farming and this now accounts for 13% of farm land usage.
As part of my Department's rural development plan, a new scheme of early retirement from farming was initiated. This scheme provides an annual income for those farmers between 55 and 66 years who decide to discontinue farming. The scheme provides an opportunity for younger farmers to take an active role in the management of the farming enterprise and improve the economic viability of the holding. In addition, the scheme of installation aid assists young people entering farming. Teagasc and the private agricultural colleges provide comprehensive third level and vocational training for young entrants into farming. Some €24 million has been provided to Teagasc and the agricultural colleges for capital investment over a five year period from 2000 to 2004. The statutory agricultural wage payable to trainees farmers during farm placement has been increased substantially recently to €190 per week. There are also a number of tax incentives to encourage the early transfer of farms to young trained farmers, including full relief from stamp duty.
Dáil Éireann 547 Written Answers. Grant Payments.