Farm Ireland

Thursday 22 February 2018

New figures reveal big regional variations on land inspections

GLAS delays undermining Farmers Charter - ICMSA

Big regional variation in the level of land eligibility inspections carried out by the Department in 2015.
Richard Kennedy

Farming Independent Team

Figures released at the Farmers' Charter meeting show a massive regional variation in the level of land eligibility inspections carried out by the Department in 2015.

These inspections check the area of land farmed compared to that applied for under area-based schemes such as the Basic Payment Scheme and Areas of Natural Constraint.

While 779 farms were inspected in Galway and 653 in Cork, just 59 holdings were subject to inspection in Carlow and 82 in Meath.

Overall, 7,976 holdings were inspected nationally, with 1,296 having their eligible area reduced and/or being subject to a fine. This equates to 16pc of the total number inspected.

The counties which recorded the highest number of fines and/or reductions in eligible area were Mayo (135), Cork (125), Galway (112), and Kerry (109).

GLAS delays

Meanwhile, GLAS payment delays have seriously undermined the Farmers' Charter of Rights, and a commitment to pay all outstanding monies by the end of April must be honoured, the ICMSA warned.

Department of Agriculture officials confirmed to the farm organisations at the Farmers' Charter of Rights committee meeting last week that outstanding GLAS payments to approximately 4,000 farmers would be completed by the end of this month.

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However, ICMSA deputy president Pat McCormack said the "payments fiasco" had badly damaged farmer confidence in the Department and in the Farmers' Charter of Rights.

He described the ongoing delays in GLAS payments as a "complete disaster" and he said the onus was squarely on the Department to work through the outstanding cases and get them cleared for payment immediately.

"It's worth putting the GLAS matter in a context: many of those awaiting payment applied for GLAS almost two years ago and still have no payment received despite complying with the full terms and conditions," McCormack pointed out.

"We have called on the Department to immediately issue the 15pc balancing payment for those GLAS 2 applicants who have had their inspections and are therefore eligible for payment. GLAS + payments are also outstanding and must be issued immediately to farmers who have encountered significant financial difficulties as a result of land designation," said Mr McCormack.

"There is growing frustration with the performance of the Department in terms of meeting their own deadlines and commitments that they have freely entered into. We don't think it's unreasonable at all to expect the Department to meet the commitments it itself has given as part of the Farmers Charter process," the ICMSA representative added.

IFA's Richard Kennedy also called on Agriculture Minister, Michael Creed, to get all GLAS payments out without any further delay.

Kennedy (right) said that the "debacle on GLAS payments" had fractured farmers' confidence in the payments system.

However, the IFA representative welcomed the Department's plans to provide dedicated support services to assist farmers in making online BPS applications in some of their Department offices and other locations throughout the country.

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