With farmers now being notified on their acceptance into the first phase of GLAS it is vital that the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney gives a clear commitment that all farmers who apply for the second phase of the scheme will also be accepted, IFA Rural Development Chairman Flor McCarthy has said.
He said the confirmation to farmers of their acceptance into the first phase at this stage will ensure that three months’ payments can be made in December next. This is worth in excess of €20m to up to 27,000 farmers, which will be a welcome boost given that a substantial number of these farmers were very dependent on REPS payments in the past.
In relation to the second phase of the scheme, Flor McCarthy said the changes that have been imposed by the Minister would mean that some farmers would get a lower payment compared to those who are in the first phase. “This is unacceptable and it is up to the Minister to reverse the changes, particularly in relation to the reduction from 10 to 5 hectares for the low input grassland measure and the dropping of the hedgerow planting measure,” he said.
He also pointed out that with a five-week window for farmers to apply it is important that any technical issues that exist with planners making applications is resolved. Farmers who apply now will commence their plans from 1st January next and will be due a full five-year payment.
Mr McCarthy also said that the GLAS numbers must increase to 50,000 farmers in 2016. The second phase will bring the total to 40,000 and it is important that the scheme is reopened again early in 2016.