Dáil Éireann - Volume 548 - 14 February, 2002
Written Answers. - Careers in Agriculture.
Cecilia Keaveney Cecilia Keaveney
23. Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development the measures the Government has introduced since June 1997 to encourage young people to take up farming; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4264/02]
Mr. J. O'Keeffe Mr. J. O'Keeffe
39. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development his proposals to encourage young farmers to remain on the land and to take over family farms. [4915/02]
Mr. Walsh Mr. Walsh
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (Mr. Walsh): I propose to take Questions Nos. 23 and 39 together.
The Government is fully committed to main taining the highest possible number of viable full-time and part-time farmers. This is the long-term strategy underpinning the Agri Food 2010 Action Plan.
By way of implementation of the action plan, the National Development Plan 2000-2006 provides €8.5 billion for rural areas and includes almost €5 billion for expenditure specifically on development. Of specific importance to young farmers has been the policy to give them priority access under the suckler cow, ewe premium and milk quota schemes together with the enhanced scheme of installation aid for which €38 million has been assigned in the NDP. Coupled with special taxation measures and the early retirement scheme this should assist in the earlier and more efficient transfer of land to younger farmers. In addition, a number of on-farm investment schemes with expenditure allocation totalling €329 million is provided for in the NDP in order to maximise production efficiency and ensure economic sustainability.
Under the national development plan, the schemes to encourage early transfer have been adjusted to enhance their impact on land mobility. The early retirement scheme has been modified to allow for part-time farming, and to remove the obligation to enlarge the transferred holding. These changes make the scheme more attractive to young farmers as transferees. The new installation aid scheme for young trained farmers provides for a grant rate of €9,523, compared to a rate of €7,112 in the previous round.
Tax incentives to encourage early transfer have been progressively increased and enhanced.
The Finance Act, 2000, increased stamp duty relief for young trained farmers from two-thirds to 100% and this was backdated to 1 January 2000. Some 100% stock relief was made available for young trained farmers for a period of four years after transfer. The capital acquisition tax threshold for gifts or inheritances was substantially increased. This effectively means that when combined with the 90% agricultural relied most family farm transfers are exempt from CAT. Probate tax on inheritances was abolished. For farmers aged 55, income tax exemptions apply to land leased to non-connected persons, and retirement relief is available on capital gains tax and of benefit to young farmers is the tax relief for the purchase of milk quota.
For the first time, a top-up is available on grant-aid for on-farm investment by farmers aged under 35. Investment schemes cover farm waste management improvement in dairy hygiene standards and housing and handling facilities for alternative enterprises. These schemes provide grant aid of 40% in the case of farmers having up to 150 income units, equivalent to 60,000 gallon quota. A grant rate of 20% will apply to farmers having between 151 and 200 income units, equivalent to 80,000 gallon quota. In addition, grant rates are increased by 15% in less favoured areas and 5% in other areas for young trained farmers  under the farm waste management and improvement in dairy hygiene schemes.
The farm waste management scheme will also provide farmers with the necessary support to improve waste management on farms. Such developments are in keeping with the Government's commitment to the protection of the environment, an issue which is of great importance at present and which will figure strongly in the future development of both Irish and European agriculture.
Apart from the various financial incentives, I have emphasised the importance of education and training in making agriculture more attractive and rewarding as a career for young people. In this regard, Teagasc is currently implementing the recommendations of the task force that I established to review the training needs of the agriculture sector. A major step forward has been the mainstreaming of agricultural training in conjunction with the institutes of technology. In relation to agricultural training, additional funding has been secured for the payment of a trainee allowance of €190 per week by Teagasc to students and apprentices on block-release courses.
The policy framework now in place for the development of agriculture, combined with specific financial incentives for young farmers and new educational possibilities, are designed to encourage young farmers to choose agriculture as a career.
Dáil Éireann 548 Written Answers. Careers in Agriculture.