Should I complete the Green Certificate first and then apply for a herd number or vice versa? Do I have to complete the Green Cert to be eligible to apply for a herd number?
These are common questions that That’s Farming receives on an ongoing basis, so for the purpose of this news article, we focus on agricultural education in Ireland and the most beneficial time to apply for a herd number for maximum gain from DAFM farm schemes/payments.
You do not have to be a Green Cert holder to obtain a herd number, and you can do so before you complete the course once you are over the age of 18 and you meet the requirements set out by the DAFM.
But, the ‘five-year’ payment/eligibility period concerning young farmers is not something which is commonly spoken about, and it is something that many farmers are unaware of.
Freelance writer, Alicia Temple, took a look at this in a previous news article, where she discussed the five-year period, which can have implications for farm scheme payments.
However, the matter was also in the spotlight at a Teagasc Sligo/Leitrim/Donegal webinar on agricultural education: options and opportunities involving some of the state agency’s staff.
During the session, Ciaran Kerins provided the following advice in response to a viewer’s question:
“The general advice would be to hold off on getting a herd number and starting out in farming until you have your Green Cert in your back pocket.”
“This is because with many of the schemes, once you have a herd number, you are effectively setting up in farming, and the clock starts ticking.”
His colleague, Veronica Ryan, also formed part of the panel for the webinar alongside Cian Condon, and she added:
“The reason why it is important to be aware of the clock ticking is because it is the first five years of you being a young trained farmer that you are deemed eligible for these higher rates of payments with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the top-ups and the Young Farmer Scheme, for example.”
“The minute you put your name on a herd number, that clock starts ticking down, whether or not you have a Green Cert in your hand or not.”
“To be able to avail of these, the DAFM state that you must have your Green Cert. So you could potentially miss out on a year or two of payments that you could be eligible for otherwise.”
“That is why we would say wait if you can at all. Do not be in a rush to put your name on a herd number until you have the Green Cert done,” she added.
Continuing the discussion, Cian Condon put this into context: “If someone applies for their herd number when they are eighteen, the five years are up when they are 23.”
“If the DAFM launches something for young farmers when they are approaching their 24th birthday, they are no longer eligible,” he concluded.