IFA Rural Development Chairman Flor McCarthy has urged the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney to change the GLAS ranking system in favour of low income farmers and to remove any specific reference to an organic nitrogen limit in the selection criteria.
Flor McCarthy said that favouring farmers in the selection criteria where the organic nitrogen limits exceeds 140kg of nitrogen per ha and for farmers with over 30 ha of tillage is discriminatory against farmers who may be either below this nitrogen limit or are on smaller tillage farms. He said there should be no reference to such categories within the GLAS criteria and that all farmers and in particular those who are on low incomes must get priority.
Putting in divisive selective criteria as well as the inclusion of a percentage agreement on commonages for either Tier 1 or Tier 2 of GLAS will lead to a significant number of hill farmers not being in a position to join the scheme, Mr McCarthy continued.
Flor McCarthy called on the Minister for Agriculture to immediately come forward with the payment rates for all the measures under the GLAS scheme and to engage in meaningful discussions before the Rural Development Plan 2014-2020 is sent to Brussels by the end of June next.
The Rural Development Chairman said, the priority for the Minister must be to ensure that a meaningful scheme is put in place and that low income farmers who depend greatly on all direct payments can maximise the benefits of the new agri-environment scheme GLAS.