Thousands of farmers could miss out on GLAS
IFA calls for deadline extension as scheme is over-subscribed by at least 5,000
Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed is under pressure to increase the funding available for GLAS following unprecedented demand for the scheme ahead of the deadline for applications this Thursday.
The environmental initiative already has 38,000 participants, but with over 16,500 applications in for the last tranche of the scheme, total demand is set to exceed the original target of 50,000 farmers by at least 5,000.
This estimate is before the traditional last-minute rush of applications is accounted for over the coming three days.
A maximum annual amount of €250m has been budgeted for the scheme over seven years.
The interest in the scheme, coupled with the high proportion of tier one and two applications, looks set to eliminate all applicants that opted for the minimum measures required in tier three.
According to figures from the Department of Agriculture, some 95pc of the 14,500 online applications that had been received by last Thursday qualified for either the tier one or tier two options.
Farm organisations said that extra funding should be allocated to ensure all applicants are allowed into the scheme. Both the IFA and ICMSA came out strongly yesterday to demand more flexibility from the agriculture minister.
The IFA's rural development chairman Joe Brady said that the total allocation of €1.45bn over the lifetime of the scheme had been significantly undershot so far, with around €160m set to be spent on the scheme in 2016. Mr Brady has also suggested the numbers allowed into the scheme be increased to a minimum of 55,000.