Farm Ireland

Thursday 22 February 2018

Farmers losing out on €35m in GLAS funds

Ireland will face difficulties in drawing down the €250m annual funding. Photo credit: Julien Behal/PA Wire
Ireland will face difficulties in drawing down the €250m annual funding. Photo credit: Julien Behal/PA Wire

Ireland will struggle to draw down the full €250m annual funding for GLAS and the farm sector could lose out on around €35m per year as a consequence, industry experts have predicted.

The likely shortfall in spending is due to the tight timeframe remaining for GLAS 3 applications to be submitted and processed this year, and the inability of applicants to secure the maximum pay-out under the scheme.

Applications for GLAS 3 will open in early November and close in mid-December, the Department of Agriculture has indicated.

This only leaves five to six weeks for planners to draw up and submit GLAS plans to the Department.

A similar window for applications was available for GLAS 2 last year and advisors managed to get around 11,500 farmers approved and into the scheme.

A comparable performance for GLAS 3 would result in close to 50,000 farmers gaining entry to the scheme - as 27,000 farmers have already joined GLAS 1.

While 50,000 farmers was the original target membership for GLAS, such a level would not draw down all the allocated funds, since the maximum available payment under the scheme is €5,000 per farmer but the average payment secured is just €4,300.

The total pay-out to farmers under GLAS if 50,000 members received €4,300 per year would be €215m - €35m shy of the €250m allocated annually for the scheme.

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Mayo-based agricultural consultant, Ian Kenny, estimated that 18,000 farmers would have to join GLAS 3 for the full €250m to be drawn down each year.

However, he admitted that advisors would be unlikely to get any more than 13,000 farmer applications submitted before the scheme closes in mid December.

"We had a similar window for GLAS 2 applications last year and advisors were flat out getting 13,000 submitted of which roughly 11,500 were accepted," he pointed out.

"A longer opening period for submission of applications would ensure that all that the full €250m could be drawn down," Kenny said.

Problems in the Department's IT section have been blamed for delays in opening the GLAS 3 scheme.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that hedging will not be included as a measure in GLAS 3.

Indo Farming