IFA Rural Development Chairman Flor McCarthy said the new GLAS scheme to be introduced as part of the Rural Development Plan 2014-2020 must be made attractive for farmers to apply. He said there must be higher payments, particularly for those farmers with Natura land.
Speaking following a meeting of the IFA National Rural Development Committee, Flor McCarthy said that Minister Coveney must increase the maximum payment of €5,000 as there are many farmers who will not be covered by this payment because of the restrictions imposed by environmental designations.
In addition, the Natura payment must be restored to €150/ha, which had been proposed and accepted by the EU Commission in AEOS, but never implemented. The additional payment for Natura land can be done through the Natura Plus mechanism where an extra €2,000 can apply.
Flor McCarthy also said that with nutrient management being proposed as a core requirement for a GLAS plan, payments should apply across the whole farm in a similar way to the REPS scheme. “This is necessary as the nutrient management plan applies to the whole farm and the payment for all hectares would recognise this.”
The IFA Rural Development Chairman also pointed out that the agri-environment output-related scheme should be available widely in areas such as the Burren, Hill and Commonage areas and in other targeted areas throughout the country.
Flor McCarthy said that the hedge and tree planting must be included as a core measure and should include species rich grassland and traditional hay meadows which have proven popular with AEOS farmers.
Concluding, Flor McCarthy said, “While a lot of details have yet to be worked out, the scheme must be simple for farmers to apply for. In the early years, a higher number of farmers should be allowed into the scheme given those who will have left REPS 4 by the end of this year. The scheme must be open for applicants next Autumn with start-up dates of 1st January 2015”.