IFA President Eddie Downey has strongly criticised a statement from the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, suggesting that GLAS contracts will not commence until September 2015. This is totally unacceptable as it will lead to significant income pressures on thousands of farms throughout the country who will have finished their REPS agri-environment schemes.
Eddie Downey said that the Minister must ensure that farmers who apply for GLAS later this year have a start-up date of 1st January next with a full year payment being paid later in 2015. Paying a part-payment from September as Minister Coveney suggests will mean that those farmers who qualify will only get a maximum payment of €1,666 for 2015. This compares to the full year payment of €5,000 which the Minister promised when the plan was sent to Brussels earlier this month.
The IFA President called on the Minister to put all his efforts into ensuring the earliest start-up date for applications and payment. Thousands of mainly livestock farmers are dependent on direct supports, which underpin low farm income and supports agricultural production which impacts on the rural economy.
Rural Development Chairman Flor McCarthy said that the priority for the Minister must be to ensure that in the forthcoming October 2015 Budget that sufficient funds are available to ensure that a significant number of farmers get paid under the GLAS scheme and that this payment is meaningful and not at the level as is being suggested by the Minister.