IFA Rural Development Chairman Michael Biggins has urged the Minister for Agriculture Dara Calleary to commence the process of extending GLAS contracts to 36,000 farmers who are due to finish their five-year plans at the end of December.
“It will be totally unacceptable for farmers to be denied environmental payments such as GLAS, as they play a key role in supporting farm income in regions and enterprises where there is a high dependency on direct supports,” he said.
Recent comments by Minister Calleary where he focused on a new REPS type scheme, rather than the existing GLAS scheme, will worry farmers who expect their GLAS contract to be extended under EU CAP transitional arrangements.
The IFA Rural Development Chairman pointed out that in IFA’s 2021 pre-Budget submission, a strong case is being made for an allocation of €230m for agri-environmental schemes to cover all GLAS contracts and locally-led schemes for next year.
In relation to the new REPS-type scheme, IFA will be insisting that funding is additional to GLAS and other environmental schemes as promised in the Programme for Government.
The commitment in the Programme is for an allocation of €150m annually, funded from an increased carbon tax. IFA has sought a meeting with the Department of Agriculture on details of the new scheme.
“On the transitional arrangements for CAP, IFA has already pointed out to the Department that farmers want a simple system of transposing GLAS plans for a further year or two in line with whatever is agreed under the CAP transition. It is important that the process begins now to avoid a rush to transpose plans later this year,” he said.