Business Farming

Thursday 29 September 2016

Minister doesn't want to 'push GLAS planners over the edge'

Darragh McCullough and Martin Ryan

Published 20/05/2015 | 02:30

Éamon Ó Cuív: 'Serious moving of the goalposts'
Éamon Ó Cuív: 'Serious moving of the goalposts'

The Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has ruled out extending the deadline for GLAS applications, citing the danger of "pushing planners over the edge".

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This is despite growing fears that the GLAS online application system will crash during the run-up to next Friday's deadline.

Total applications jumped by close to 5,000 to 8,000 in the last five days, but that is still only a quarter of the 30,000 beef farmers that were originally targeted for the first year of the scheme.

While over 32,000 farmers have taken the first step in applying to the scheme, and almost 25,000 have indicated the measures that they plan to implement, it looks increasingly unlikely that the total number of successful applicants in this first tranche will be more than 20,000.

"We do not want the same closing date for both GLAS and the Basic Payment schemes. That would really drive planners over the edge because they would have to try to do everything at the same time," Minister Coveney said in reply to a Dáil question last week.

'Denial'

Fianna Fáil's agriculture spokesperson Éamon Ó Cuív claimed that the minister remained in denial over the new agri-environment scheme.

"Minister Coveney is continuing to gloss over the major challenges facing this new scheme. There has been a very serious moving of the goalposts with regard to the criteria for GLAS tier 3 applications just 16 days before the closing date for applications. That is completely unacceptable," he said.

"Only 20pc of commonage farmers have applied for GLAS, which is an unprecedentedly weak take-up, especially on designated lands. The complexity of the criteria for eligibility for the new suckler beef scheme will almost certainly cause problems for farmers, along with the delay with TAMS, making it increasingly likely that the Department of Agriculture will be facing a serious budget underspend this year." added Deputy Ó Cuív.

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