At a recent meeting with the Department of Agriculture, IFA discussed the extension of critical farms schemes, such as the Basic Payment, GLAS, TAMS, BDGP, BEEP-S & the Sheep Welfare scheme. IFA Rural Development Chairman, Michael Biggins welcomed the announcement that schemes will be extended into 2021 and beyond as part of the EU’s CAP transitional rules.
The Department confirmed that the BPS and the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) payments will rollover as part of the CAP transition for 2021 and 2022 and that payment dates for 2021 would be in line with 2020.
The Rural Development Chairman also sought detail on the new €79m ‘REPS’ scheme. He said, “The Department still have no detail on this scheme, though it was first flagged in the Programme for Government. This must be resolved quickly if the scheme is to open for applications early next year and ensure farmers get paid for it in 2021. This will allow farmers not currently in an agri-environmental scheme to participate in the proposed new scheme.”
On GLAS, the Rural Development Chairman said that 36,000 farmers, who are currently in GLAS 1 and GLAS 2 would welcome the certainty that their plans will be extended into 2021 and beyond.
He said, “This must be a simple process without additional costs, and payment levels must be fully maintained. Flexibility must also be given to farmers with land leases due to expire. Farmers must have the option to move to another parcel if needed”.
IFA understands that GLAS 1 and 2 participants will be contacted shortly and given the option to ‘opt-in’ or ‘opt-out’ of the GLAS extension period.
For derogation farmers who participate in the GLAS Low Emission Slurry Spreading (LESS) action who recently received a letter from the Department of Agriculture informing them that they will only be eligible for payment under GLAS for slurry spread before 15th April 2020, because it is mandatory since that date. Michael Biggins called for flexibility for these farmers, similar to what is allowed in TAMS. He said that derogation farmers should be eligible for payment under GLAS LESS action until at least April 2021.
Concerning TAMS, the Department confirmed to IFA, that Tranche 20 will open next week and will close for applications at the end of the year. €80 million was announced in the Budget for TAMS in 2021, and IFA sought to clarify that Tranche 21 will open for applications on January 21st 2021. Mr Biggins said it is vital that the opening of Tranche 21 is confirmed without delay to avoid farmers investment plans being put on hold.
On the Organics Farming Scheme (OFS), IFA welcomed clarity that the scheme is being rolled over. The 2021 Budget confirmed that funding for the OFS Scheme has increased by 33% to facilitate new entrants. IFA Organics project team Chairman Nigel Renaghan said that applicants who missed out the last time around must be prioritised.