GLAS is an ‘absolute cock-up’, agricultural advisors claim

Agricultural advisors and consultants around the country are being inundated with GLAS enquires from farmers which they cannot deal with, according to Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA) member Andy Dunne.

“It’s an absolute cock-up,” he said.

“As far as I am aware, 500 farm consultants have all the required qualifications and certification requirements  to act on behalf of GLAS clients.

“Yet, earlier this week, the Department of Agriculture went ahead and published an eligible consultants’ list containing about half this number of names.

“I work with three colleagues in our Portlaoise office. Not one of us has been listed for the scheme up to this point. Meanwhile the phone is ringing off the hook with farmers looking to push ahead with their GLAS plans. And, obviously, they are annoyed when told that we cannot help them.

“I have taken this matter up with the ACA presidential team. This matter must be sorted out as a matter of priority.”

South west Donegal advisor Peter Cannon said the scheme is not up and running yet as not all planners have access to the site.

He also said issues exist where clients are texted a code, which they only have 24 hours to repond, and if they don’t respond in time, the code expires and they have to get another authorisation code.

“I have 20 people signed up already, but can’t progress it any further. When we do get onto the system, we can’t lodge the plan online until the middle of March.”

He also said that farmers on marginal land will find it difficult to get a decent payment. “Only 14% of my clients will get the full €5,000, another 6% will get around €4,000, but 60% of my clients would only qualify for €3,000 or less.”

ACA president Tom Dawson confirmed that the Department of Agriculture published an updated consultants’ list yesterday (Thursday) containing 350 names.

“But that’s still 150 names short,” he said.

“I will be taking this matter up with Department officials later today.”

Dawson also confirmed that, in some cases, farmers are actively seeking out GLAS registered consultants, in preference to advisors they have had a traditional relationship with.

“This is because their long standing advisors may not be currently registered for the scheme. And this is a particular point that I will be raising with the Department,” he said.

“We operate in a free market. Farmers can pick up the phone and speak to whichever consultant they wish. However, in cases where new business is generated on the back of the current GLAS debacle, it would be etiquette for the consultants involved to find out the name of the advisers working previously with the farmers and enquire if they had any professional objections to the switch taking place.”

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