Criteria for GLAS gives farms grief

ICMSA president John Comer
ICMSA president John Comer
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

Concern is mounting within farm organisations that selection criteria to be applied to applicants for the new environment scheme GLAS will severely limit the number of farmers that will be eligible to participate.

The Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney announced annual funding of €250m for GLAS as part of the Government's Rural Development Plan (RDP) for the next five years.

The IFA estimates that there will be over 30,000 farmers that will have exited either AEOS or REPS looking for places on a new environmental scheme.

"With just 20,000 farmers left in AEOS schemes, the overall number of participants in environmental schemes has fallen to their lowest levels since the mid 1990s," said the IFA's rural development spokesman Flor McCarthy.

Block

While the Department of Agriculture have not revealed yet how the scheme will be administered, farm representatives believe that limits on the size of farm or the amount of fertiliser being used could effectively block many potential participants.

A statement from the Department of Agriculture said that the scheme is "expected to build towards a maximum of €250m per annum over the RDP period," but that the allocation for 2015 had "not yet been finalised".

Following a series of meetings with Department officials, ICMSA president John Comer said that he was worried that there would not be enough funding to cater for the number of farmers that would be seeking to join the new GLAS scheme.

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"All farmers who wish to join this scheme for 2015 should be accepted and certainly not be rejected due to the lack of funding," he said.

Lack of funding

"Farmers could find themselves rejected from the scheme as a result of a lack of funding and be told that they will have to wait until the end of 2015 to apply again, only to be rejected again due to a lack of funding.

"That kind of scenario is simply unacceptable and the Minister needs to spell out if a quota situation will apply."

Mr Comer said that the new GLAS scheme was launched with much fanfare stating that up to €5,000 per annum would be payable to up to 50,000 farmers.

"This commitment needs to be delivered in 2015 and not trickled out in stages on a number quota basis up to 2019.

"Why should anyone have to pay a planner to complete a plan, submit the plan, only to be then rejected from the scheme because the lack of funding meant that they never had a chance of being accepted into that stage of the scheme in the first place?" he asked.

Indo Farming


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