IFA Rural Development Chairman Flor McCarthy has expressed concern that Minister Coveney’s proposals on GLAS could result in some farmers having difficulty in joining the scheme as they may not have the priority environmental assets which qualify them for Tier 1 in the scheme.
Flor McCarthy insisted that the Minister must not turn down anybody who makes a valid application for the scheme. This is crucial as many farmers are very dependent on the agri-environment schemes. With up to 30,000 farmers exiting REPS 4 between the end of 2013 and 2014 many of them must have a meaningful scheme available to them.
The IFA Rural Development Chairman said that the priority for the Minister now was to open the scheme without delay so that sufficient time is given to both farmers and their Planners to make their applications before a closing date of around end of March 2015.
Following on this, plans must commence so that the payment period for 2015 is much longer than the Minister’s current suggestion of three months. This short time period proposed by the Minister will be rejected by farmers and will question his commitment to low income farmers.
At a recent meeting with the Department of Agriculture on technical aspects of the GLAS scheme, IFA pointed out that the payment levels and the limits under each measure are sufficiently high enough to ensure that most farmers can achieve the €5,000 maximum payment.