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National Reserve 2020 – everything you need to know

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, has welcomed the recommendation made by the Direct Payments Advisory Committee regarding the continuation of the National Reserve in 2020.  

Following consultation between the Department and the Direct Payments Advisory Committee, comprising members of the main farming bodies and agricultural advisory and education providers, provision will now be made for applications to the National Reserve in 2020. 

The EU Regulations underpinning the operation of the National Reserve provide for priority access to the mandatory categories of ‘young farmer’ and ‘new entrant to farming’. 

Young farmer

To qualify as a ‘young farmer’ an applicant must meet the following conditions:

  • S/he is participating in the Basic Payment Scheme in the year s/he submits an application;
  • S/he is no more than 40 years of age during the calendar year in which s/he first submits an application under the Basic Payment Scheme;
  • S/he is setting up an agricultural holding for the first time or has set up such a holding during the five years preceding the first submission of the Basic Payment Scheme application.

New entrant to farming

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  • A ‘new entrant to farming’ is defined as:
  • S/he is participating in the Basic Payment Scheme in the year s/he submits an application;
  • S/he must have commenced the present agricultural activity in the 2018 calendar year or any later year;
  • S/he did not have any agricultural activity in his/her own name and at his/her own risk in the five years preceding the start of the present agricultural activity.

Other eligibility criteria

In line with the requirements under National Reserve schemes since the introduction of the Single Payment Scheme in 2005, successful candidates will be required to meet an appropriate agricultural education qualification standard. 

Successful candidates will also be required to have a gross off-farm income of less than €40,000 in either of the 2018 or 2019 tax years.


The funding for the National Reserve in 2020 will be met from natural replenishment of the fund without the requirement for a linear cut to the value of all Basic Payment Scheme entitlements, according to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.  

It is expected that the funding in place for the 2020 National Reserve will be in the region of €3 million, which based on the level of applications in recent years will be sufficient to meet the expected demand.

Successful applicants to the National Reserve receive an allocation of entitlements at National Average value or a top-up to the National Average value on entitlements that are below the national average.  

Opening date

Full details of the operation of the scheme, including terms and conditions, will be available when the scheme opens for online applications in February 2020 to coincide with the opening of online Basic Payment Scheme applications.

Closing date

The closing date for receipt of applications under the scheme will be May 15th, 2020.

Terms and conditions

While the detailed terms and conditions of the National Reserve for 2020 will be made available when the schemes launch for online applications in February, it is expected that the terms and conditions will be consistent with those that applied in recent years.

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