IFA Rural Development Chairman Flor McCarthy has insisted that Teagasc must be involved in GLAS plans or the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney must instruct them to do so. Otherwise many farmers will have difficulty getting into the scheme when it opens later in the year.
Flor McCarthy said that it is vital that there is the support structure for farmers and Teagasc through its 250 advisers play a key role in supporting farmers throughout the country. “In the delivery of schemes for farmers, the public/private mix has worked effectively over the last 20 years as direct payments have become more important for farmers. It would be a travesty if Teagasc were to leave this just to the private sector as farmers have worked very closely with the organisation over many years”.
The IFA Rural Development Chairman said the priority must be to ensure that the Minister for Agriculture introduces the GLAS scheme at the earliest possible opportunity. He must also ensure every farmer is given an opportunity to join the scheme which is so vital to support farm income. To achieve this, the Minister must direct Teagasc that they have to be centrally involved in GLAS Plans.
He pointed out that farmers, particularly in the peripheral regions, depend greatly on Teagasc and any diminution of their services will have a catastrophic effect as farmers in these areas are very dependent on direct payment supports.
The Rural Development Chairman also pointed out at a meeting with the Agricultural Consultants Association the importance of the provision of a top-quality service to farmers at a competitive pricing structure. If Teagasc were to remove themselves from GLAS, it would reflect a further dilution of their advisory support service to farmers.