With the deadline for GLAS 3 applications looming, IFA Rural Development Chairman Joe Brady has urged the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to accept all applicants given the unprecedented demand from farmers to get into the scheme.
Joe Brady said that the closing date for entering the scheme is Thursday 15th December but this may have to be extended to ensure all potential applicants are accepted. The commencement day for all contracts must be from 1st January 2017 so that farmers can avail of the full five years of the plan up to the end of 2021.
The IFA Rural Development Chairman pointed out that, in the RDP, that the average GLAS allocation would be €250m per year with a total allocation of €1.45bn over seven years. Nearly three years into the RDP, this figure has been significantly undershot with only the three-month payment for 2015 made so far, and full year payments now due for both GLAS 1 and GLAS 2. This will mean that only around €160m will have been spent in GLAS by the end of the year.
Joe Brady said that the Minister now needs to increase the numbers to at least 55,000 from the 1st January next so that between then and the end of the RDP in December 2020, the €250m annual average pay-out is achieved over the lifetime of the RDP.
In relation to GLAS 1 and 2 payments for 2016, IFA was told at the last meeting with the Department of Agriculture that payments would commence on December 19th next. It is vitally important that all 38,000 farmers in the scheme get a payment as frustration is building up in relation to processing of payments.
Concluding, Joe Brady said that given the recent Teagasc outlook for Farm Incomes in 2017, direct payment schemes such as GLAS are a vital component of farm income support. Farmers who join a scheme incur costs such as planning and costs of compliance and must not have any payment delay as maintaining cashflow is vital.