MACRA has welcomed the Government’s new Succession Planning Advice Grant (SPAG) for farmers but cautioned that further supports are needed to bring young people into farming.
The new scheme, which opens next month, will help older farmers to plan for the future and the future of their farms, by providing financial support towards the costs of legal and financial advice for succession planning.
It will support farmers aged 60 years and over to seek succession planning advice by contributing up to 50% of vouched legal, accounting, and advisory costs, subject to a maximum payment of €1,500.
‘It is very important to be able to assist farmers in making what can be very difficult but ultimately very important decisions about the future of their farming enterprise,’ said Agriculture Minister Charlie Mc Conalogue Minister McConalogue.
While welcoming the announcement, Macra president Elaine Houlihan said it is never too early to commence succession planning, and highlighted that less than 7% of farmers are under the age of 35. She cited an Irish Farm Accounts Co-operative Society (IFAC) study of 2000 farmers in 2019, which showed that 86% of this cohort did not have a succession plan in place.
Given that over one third of all farmers are over the age of 65, Ms Houlihan said it is imperative for the future of the industry that farmers engage with services that can assist with succession planning, services such as the Land Mobility service.
Ms Houlihan said: ‘This is not the first time that financial incentives have been introduced to facilitate succession, we have the €5,000 tax credit available for Succession Partnerships since 2017, we have approximately 280 financial supports available under CAP, yet less than 7% of farmers are under the age of 35.
‘The payment of up to €1500 to farmers who avail themselves of professional services is welcomed, it will assist in generational renewal, it will not on its own move the dial from less than 7% to where it should be.’
Ms Houlihan said Macra will continue to work with the Government in the development of its succession scheme.
The Government scheme will open the scheme September 19th with paper applications form available at the National Ploughing Championships and for download from the Department of Agriculture website. Applications for 2023 will close at the end of the year and the first tranche payment will be in Quarter 1 of 2024.
• An information webinar for the new scheme is scheduled for September 6th at 7pm and can be accessed at https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/7167331902946967642
Who can Access the Grant?
- Farmers aged 60 years and above who are currently not in a succession farm partnership.
- Farming at least a minimum of 3 hectares of land at the time of application.
- Farming for a minimum of 2 years prior to application.