Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Saturday 23 September 2017

Fears over scarcity of planners for GLAS

The horse ploughing was a huge attraction at the 2014 National Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska, Co. Laois.
Picture: Alf Harvey/HRPhoto.ie
The horse ploughing was a huge attraction at the 2014 National Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska, Co. Laois. Picture: Alf Harvey/HRPhoto.ie
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

The race is on among commonage farmers to get plans completed before the opening of the new GLAS scheme for applications this December.

Following the publication of a series of clarifications by the Department of Agriculture on the entry criteria for commonage farmers into GLAS late last week, planners are bracing themselves for a projected 30,000 farmers looking for individual plans to allow them access to the scheme.

"We'll be buried if Teagasc don't step up to the plate," said west Mayo planner, John McDonagh.

He says that he is already getting calls from Teagasc clients worried that the State agency is not going to facilitate them on drawing up plans t oaccess GLAS.

"I can't see enough planners to do the work by April 30, because everybody is going to be seriously busy trying to get new SFP applications in next spring.

Farmers are also concerned about who is going to foot the bill for these plans.

"Say there is three farmers in a commonage, but two of them are staying in AEOS for another year. Does the remaining farmer foot the entire bill for the commonage plan? Does the commonage plan need to be altered when the other farmers want to enter GLAS?" asked Hill Farmers for Action farmer, Brendan Joyce.

The issues are expected to be raised at a series of meetings held by the Department of Agriculture around the country this week. The first two of the eight are to be held in Knockranny House Hotel in Westport, Mayo and the Kenmare Bay Hotel in Kerry this evening.

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Another will be held in Peacocke's Hotel in Maam Cross in Galway tomorrow night, with two more scheduled for Thursday night in Nesbitts in Ardara, Donegal and the Glendalough Hotel in Wicklow.

Next Tuesday, there will be a meeting in the Four Seasons hotel in Carlingford, Louth and Parkway Hotel in Dunmanway in Cork, while the final meeting is set for the Clonmel Park, in Clonmel, Tipperary. All the meetings will start at 8pm.

There will also be a series of separate information meetings for agricultural consultants in the same locations at 2pm on each date.

Among the new commonage rules published by the Department in the last week:

• Farmers with commonage who wish to join GLAS are in the Tier 1 priority category;

• A commonage farmer can apply as an individual provided that they are in compliance with a Commonage Management Plan (CMP);

• This CMP will be completed by one advisor;

• Where 50pc of active shareholders are not participating, the matter will be referred to the Commonage Implementation Committee;

• The 50pc requirement is based only on farmers that are actually grazing the commonage - ie - active farmers;

• The 50pc rule will not apply to commonages smaller than 10ha;

• The actions under GLAS must be over what is being carried out under the Single Payment Scheme to get approval for the scheme;

• Provided an individual minimum grazing requirement is met by each of the participants, it will be open to the shareholders acting together to manage any additional grazing needs themselves. The advisor will assist here;

• The commonage plan should provide for gradual progression towards the targets set;

• Commonage farmers with more than one priority asset will be eligible for the increased GLAS+ payment. A maximum of €7,000 is payable under GLAS+;

• If it is clear that a farmer has made every effort to meet the requirement, they will not be locked out of GLAS;

• The Department has also insisted that the €120/ha payable to GLAS participants on commonage land includes the cost of drawing up the CMP.

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