According to Eddie Forde of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, there are a number of eligibility requirements to qualify for the YFS (Young Farmers’ Scheme).
Firstly, a candidate must have submitted a valid 2022 BPS application (May 16th, 2022) under a herd number on which the applicant is included.
Secondly, they must be aged no more than 40 years of age at any time during the calendar year in which s/he first submits an application under BPS.
Moreover, they should have successfully completed a recognised course of education in agriculture, giving rise to an award at FETAC level 6 or its equivalent by May 16th, 2022;
And be setting up as the head of an agricultural holding for the first time or has set up such a holding during the five years preceding the first submission of the BPS application.
The DAFM conducts a raft of checks on all applications to ensure compliance with the basic scheme requirements.
The compliance checks generate a pool of eligible applicants from which DAFM officials select for on-farm checks.
In recent years, as per revised EU regulations, 10% of the eligible population have been subjected to such inspections, which equates to circa 500 young farmers annually.
There are desk-based checks carried out on data that the DAFM holds, coupled with supporting documents submitted by farmers at the time of application, including the following:
- Date of birth: For individual applicants, check against the date of birth record held by the DAFM. For young farmer in a group, a birth cert is submitted as part of an application;
- Commencement of ag activity: Checked against records held by DAFM;
- Educational qualification: Evidence of qualification submitted by the applicant is checked against the approved list of courses. Check that the course is completed by the scheme closing date;
- Submission of valid BPS: Checked against DAFM records;
- Payment entitlements held by the individual applicant: Checked against DAFM records. YFS paid based on the number of entitlements activated in the scheme year with changes in 2023.
Additional administrative check for Young Farmer in a group – joint herd number, a company or a farm partnership:
- Young farmer applicant named on the herd number being used to submit the application;
- YFS declaration form completed by all members of the group and signed and stamped by a solicitor to confirm young farmer in control (managerially and financially) within the group;
- Evidence that young farmer is named on bank account into which BPS and YPS payments are made. DAFM checks against its records;
- Birth cert submitted in respect of young farmer.
- For company applications, CRO records are examined to confirm the role of the young farmer as direct and minimum 20% shareholder.
Change of registration details for farming entity:
- Changes to the registration details of a herd number or farming entity – individual applicant in 2021 joins a Registered Farm Partnership in 2022 or change of director in company, must be notified to the DAFM;
- While an eligible successful applicant in one year can apply for continued participation, the following year, by using the tick-box option on the BPS application, for applicants for whom there has been a change of registration to the herd number, they must submit an online YFS application via AgFood.ie.