IFA Rural Development Chairman Joe Brady has called on the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to immediately commence the process of payment of €170m to 38,000 farmers who are due a GLAS payment for 2016.
Speaking following a meeting of the IFA Rural Development Committee in Dublin this week, Joe Brady said frustration is building up among farmers, some of whom joined the scheme as far back as May 2015 but who still have not seen the value of it with a full year payment.
Joe Brady said all GLAS farmers have incurred significant costs already in planning fees, compliance costs as well as income foregone as a result of participation in the agri-environment scheme. Payments must now be made to deal with the cashflow crisis that has arisen as a result of this.
Farmers were promised payments in an 85% and 15% split well before the end of the year. Pushing these payments out is causing financial hardship and immediate payment is now necessary. It is time for the Minister to intervene on this crucial matter.
In relation to commonage farmers, IFA Hill Committee Chairman Pat Dunne said the commitment that once farmers have signed up to the interim commonage plan, payments would trigger payments at the same time as all other GLAS farmers must be fully honoured by the Minister.
The IFA Hill Chairman said that with GLAS due to reopen next week, the number of commonage farmers who will be in the scheme will exceed 10,000 farmers. IFA estimates that already 7,000 commonage farmers are in the scheme and all of these farmers must get the full payment shortly.
In the implementation of GLAS in hill areas, IFA has consistently said that flexibility must come into play with regards to meeting the stocking criteria in the commonage plan.
Concluding, Pat Dunne said that all direct payments are a vital lifeline for hill farmers and the GLAS scheme along with ANCs, BPS and the soon to be introduced Sheep Scheme have a significant impact on supporting farm income.