IFA Hill Committee Chairman Pat Dunne has called on the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to implement GLAS in commonage areas now that the process of carrying out commonage plans is due to commence.
Speaking in advance of a meeting with the Department of Agriculture later this week, Pat Dunne said with more than 4,000 farmers having applied for the GLAS scheme on 2,700 commonages it is clear that there are still many farmers who will want to join the scheme but are concerned about the criteria being imposed by the Department of Agriculture.
Pat Dunne said that the decision of the Department of Agriculture to appoint planners to do commonage plans is long overdue as IFA had raised this issue 12 months ago.
In relation to the min/max level of stocking, the period of time for this to be achieved must be extended in commonages where there is a low level of interest in the GLAS scheme. No individual farmer should have to reach a level of stocking that is unsustainable and impractical.
The IFA hill leader said the publication of the guidelines to planners to carry out commonage management plans for 4,000 farmers who joined the first phase of GLAS is awaited. These guidelines must allow CMP’s to be carried out in a flexible and simple format.
Pat Dunne said that the time period to carry out the plans, which has been set for the end of August, has now been extended to the end of October. However, IFA has reminded the Minister that the 4,000 farmers who have already applied for GLAS must get their part payment for 2015 later in the year and there must be no hold-up.
The IFA hill farmer leader said it is expected that many commonage farmers who did not join the first phase of GLAS are ready to join when the scheme reopens in the autumn when the CMP’s are completed. Many commonage farmers are still in AEOS, and as they are priority Tier 1 farmers are guaranteed entry to the scheme. In addition, the splitting parcel issue ensured that some farmers were better to wait until the autumn as they could maximise their payments.