IFA Rural Development Chairman Flor McCarthy has called on the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to allow all applicants to the second phase of GLAS which closed last Friday into the scheme, with contracts commencing on 1st January next. Around 14,000 farmers have applied for the second phase, which is a clear indication of the importance of this scheme as a vital support to farm income.
Flor McCarthy has welcomed the fact that this number has applied. “IFA’s pre-Budget campaign to increase the number beyond the 10,000 places on offer from the Minister was fully justified.”
The combined number of farmers between first phase and second phase of GLAS will be in excess of 40,000. This represents a significant boost to farm income and will ensure that the agri-environment programme will play a key role at a time when farm incomes are continually under pressure. The allocation in next year’s Book of Estimates for the agri-environment schemes is €205m which also includes those farmers who are still in AEOS.
The IFA Rural Development Chairman said that the Minister must now signal when the third phase of GLAS will open. IFA is seeking an early opening of the scheme in 2016 to ensure that 50,000 farmers are in the agri-environment scheme in line with the RDP commitment. The allocation in the RDP for GLAS is €1,450m. This funding must be fully used up through an acceleration of the number of farmers who are allowed into the scheme.
In relation to payments for first phase of GLAS, it is important that the three-month payment for 2015 is paid out without delay to the 20,000 farmers who are due a payment, Flor McCarthy concluded.