IFA Hill Chairman Pat Dunne has called on the Department of Agriculture to apply the maximum flexibility in commonage areas so that all active farmers can qualify for the Single Farm Payment, Disadvantaged Areas payments and the new GLAS scheme.
Speaking in advance of the Department of Agriculture’s public information meetings on the new stocking regime for commonages, which commence in Westport and Kenmare on Tuesday September 30th, Pat Dunne said that it was vitally important that farmers got the proper information so that they are in a position to qualify for farm schemes which are so essential to support low incomes in hill areas. It is in farmers’ interest to attend these meetings so that clarification can be given on the various situations on commonages. Where there are outstanding issues to be resolved, IFA will deal with these in discussions with the Department of Agriculture over the coming weeks.
Pat Dunne said that the minimum stocking level of 0.1 lu/ha must be applied in a flexible way. Where farmers have to increase their numbers, they must be given a long lead-in time to achieve this. Also, consideration must be given for commonages which currently meet good environmental conditions should not have to take on more onerous conditions in order to qualify for payment.
The IFA Hill Chairman also said that the Department should show flexibility where the commonage shareholding of the farmer is below a certain size as it may be impractical for them to meet the conditions that could be imposed.
In relation to GLAS, IFA will be demanding at the meetings that the commitment that was made by the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney last July that where the 50% management agreement cannot be achieved that the Commonage Implementation Body chaired by Joe Healy will address the situation. This is important to ensure that active farmers qualify for the GLAS up to a maximum payment of €5,000 and the GLAS+ of an additional €2,000 to give a total maximum of €7,000.
Concluding, Pat Dunne restated his call on Minister Coveney to get the GLAS scheme up and running as soon as possible, with the necessary flexibilities. “No barriers must be put in the way of effective implementation of GLAS and early approval from the EU Commission is now urgently required.”
He said the upcoming Budget is a real test of the Government’s commitment to the new GLAS scheme as adequate funding must be provided so that significant payments can be made in 2015.
Department of Agriculture Commonage Information meetings will take place as follows:
Tuesday 30th September
Knockranny House Hotel, Westport 8pm
Kenmare Bay Hotel, Kenmare 8pm
Wednesday 1st October
Peacockes Hotel, Mamm Cross 8pm
Thursday, 2nd October
The Glendalough Hotel, Glendalough 8pm
Nesbitt Arms Hotel, Ardara, Donegal 8pm
Tuesday 7th October
Four Seasons Hotel, Carlingford 8pm
Parkway Hotel, Dunmanway 8pm
Wednesday, 8th October
Clonmel Park Hotel, Clonmel 8pm