Following the series of Department of Agriculture information meetings throughout the country on commonages, IFA has set-out the priorities for the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to allow for the effective implementation of key CAP Direct Payments to farmers.
IFA National Hill Chairman Pat Dunne has 12 key priorities which must be addressed in advance of 2015 Single Farm Payment and the new GLAS scheme, which must be introduced shortly.
The 12 key priorities are:
- That a strong Government commitment is made in next week’s Budget to adequately fund the GLAS scheme in 2015.
- That the GLAS scheme opens without delay so that contracts can begin at the earliest possible date in 2015 with payments being made later in the year.
- That the training of Planners on the new commonage rules commences immediately.
- The Minister must ensure that Teagasc remain involved in commonage plans as many farmers already have contracts with them.
- The Commonage Management Plan must be simple and should be administrated and paid for by the Department of Agriculture with Planners contracted to carry them out.
- In relation to lead in time to achieve the stocking rates required, to qualify for Single Farm Payment, farmers in some cases must be given until the end of 2016 particularly where there are large commonages.
- In relation to the minimum stocking level for GLAS there must be a flexible arrangement based on what the Planners determine as a reasonable timescale.
- In relation to the GLAS Management Agreement maximum flexibility must be given to farmers who can’t achieve the 50% active shareholders.
- The Commonage Implementation Committee must be in a position to turn around cases which have difficulty reaching the 50% of active shareholders within a 2 week period so that there is no hold-up in the application for GLAS.
- Farmers in commonage areas must be allowed to be eligible for GLAS+ in all areas not just those where there is a priority environmental asset
- The GLAS targeted output scheme must be implemented in the SAC areas of the Maamturks in Connemara, the Nephin in Co Mayo, the Wicklow uplands and South Kerry areas. This would be similar to the Burren scheme where top-up payments would be made for additional environmental actions.
- A special Hill Sheep Knowledge Transfer measure including a payment of €1,500/farmer should apply in hill areas to help to get a better economic return for sheep farmers.
In addition to the above points, Pat Dunne has called on the Minister for Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys to immediately come forward with proposals to change the burning dates from the end of February to mid-April. Controlled burning is an intricate part of commonage management and the promised change of date must be forthcoming from Minister Humphreys
Concluding, Pat Dunne said that there are still many issues to be resolved and IFA will be meeting the Department of Agriculture to pursue these matters further. The priority for Minister Coveney is to get the scheme started without delay.