IFA Rural Development Chairman, Flor McCarthy has welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Agriculture that he will open the GLAS scheme in early autumn. However he expressed disappointment that only 10,000 places will be available, which will result in the objective to achieve an overall figure of 50,000 farmers in the scheme by 2016 not being achieved.
Flor McCarthy said that the GLAS scheme, which farmers are currently applying for, is a vital support for low income farmers particularly in the drystock and marginal land areas. In the current phase of GLAS it is expected that up to 30,000 farmers will apply.
The Rural Development Chairman said the opening of the scheme in the autumn is vitally important for farmers to maximise their payments as the splitting of parcels issue in the current phase was limiting the number of options that farmers could take. Also opening up the scheme later this year will help new entrants as applications will be made on their 2015 BPS application.
Flor McCarthy reminded Minister Coveney that the RDP plan envisaged that 50,000 farmers would be in this scheme with an annual allocation of €250m. It is up to the Minister to ensure that this figure is achieved and that the allocation for the scheme is clearly set out in the 2016 book of estimates. It is also important that the part-payment due to farmers at the end of this year for farmers who are applying now is significant as there is €20m allocated in this year’s estimates for the scheme.
Meanwhile, IFA Hill Committee Chairman Pat Dunne has welcomed the extension of the time for planners to carry out commonage management plans to the end of August. This increased timescale is necessary as some commonage plans will be very complex and it will also allow the planners more time to contact all shareholders who are interested in the GLAS scheme.