IFA Rural Development Chairman Flor McCarthy has said the flexibility secured by IFA in July at a meeting with the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney must now be delivered by the Commonage Implementation Committee to ensure that all farmers who sign up for GLAS on commonage lands are accepted.
IFA will hold the Minister to his commitment that if the 50% management agreement is not achieved for legitimate reasons, active farmers will still get priority to participate in GLAS.
He must ensure that the Commonage Implementation Committee, which IFA fought for and secured, must recognise the difficulties and constraints of hill farming and ensure the Minister’s commitment to IFA in July is upheld.
He also said there is a responsibility on the Department of Agriculture and Teagasc to prioritise hill and commonage areas in the west of Ireland that will have a significant number of applicants. “Whatever resources are required in those areas will have to be made available to avoid any delay in getting the new GLAS Scheme up and running. Farmers cannot be left waiting because of a lack of personnel. If it means re-locating resources, it will have to be done.”
Flor McCarthy said, “Flexibility has always been a key demand of IFA. It is absolutely essential that no farmer is disadvantaged and IFA will make this very clear to the Department at their forthcoming meetings.
He called on the Department of Agriculture to run additional information meetings to explain the new rules and provide accurate and detailed information. It is essential that every effort is made by the Department to address farmers concerns.
The IFA Hill Chairman Pat Dunne restated his call on Minister Coveney to get the GLAS scheme up and running as soon as possible, with the necessary flexibilities. “No barriers must be put in the way of effective implementation of GLAS and early approval from the EU Commission is now urgently required.”
Pat Dunne said the upcoming Budget is a real test of the Government’s commitment to the new GLAS scheme as adequate funding must be provided so that significant payments can be made in 2015.