IFA National Rural Development Chairman Michael Biggins has called on the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to begin discussions on an extension to GLAS contracts for 36,000 farmers whose plans finish at the end of this year.
“The transition regulations will be finalised in Brussels next month. It’s vitally important that the arrangements are put in place at an early stage to allow all farmers an opportunity to make the necessary adjustments to their plans,” he said.
Michael Biggins said there should be an option to extend for up to two years as this is likely to be the period before the next CAP is ready to be implemented.
New entrants to farming since GLAS closed in 2016, as well as the 3,000 farmers who were in AEOS and have been denied a scheme since their contracts finished in 2018, should also be given the option to join.
The IFA Rural Development Chairman laid out a number of key principles for the extension:
- Farm payments rates across all current GLAS measures must be at least maintained.
- Capital work payments are extended with a farmer commitment that the action will be maintained for the duration of the transition. This includes fencing along water course and hedging
- The cost of extending a plan must be simple with a declaration by the farmer that he will continue to carry out all the measures laid out in the original plan.
- For farmers not currently in the scheme such as AEOS farmers and new entrants that they would draw up a simple plan for 1 or 2 years so that they could join a revamped agri-environment scheme in the next CAP post 2022.
- Farmers currently in the organic scheme would get their plans extended and new entrants taken into the scheme.
In relation to financing of GLAS in 2021, IFA will be making a strong case that all agri– environment measures will be fully protected in next October’s Budget.
These schemes which include GLAS, organics, and locally-led schemes are worth around €225m to farmers and make a significant contribution to farm income.
IFA will be demanding that there is no gap in these payments in 2021 as continuity of such payments must be the priority to help support farm incomes at this critical time when farm income is under threat.