CAP: ‘Some people have come out of GLAS and been left high and dry’

“Some people have come out of GLAS [Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme] and been left high and dry,” according to Fianna Fáil TD Éamon Ó Cuív.

The deputy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue the progress that has been made in the provision of interim environmental measures under the present Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for 2020 and 2021.

Speaking in the Dáil, Deputy Ó Cuív said:

“When we had the rural environment protection schemes [REPS], followed by the agri-environment options schemes [AEOS] and then GLAS, a farmer could pass seamlessly from one to another.

“This became a fundamental part of the income of many farmers. Suddenly, at the end of GLAS, there is nothing.

Will we get an interim environmental measure while we are waiting for the 2022 to 2027 CAP programme? Farmers cannot wait.

“In every other CAP we were able to roll over schemes into new schemes. I do not know why it did not happen in the last CAP.”

‘People have to live and survive’

Deputy Ó Cuív has said it is his understanding that some people “have come out of GLAS and been left high and dry”.

“These people have depended on it for years. I know that GLAS was much smaller than previous schemes such as REPS, which was the biggest scheme, and REPS 4 in particular.

Certain farmers have gone from €11,000 or €12,000 down to nothing. People have to live and survive.

“They are still adhering to the same very high environmental standards, but their income stream is gone.

“Many of them are on high nature value land, but that land has relatively low productivity or its productivity is constrained by rules laid down by the minister’s department.”

Minister McConalogue said he accepts “the importance of ensuring that the income stream from environmental schemes, which has been very important for farmers, continues”.

“It is my objective to ensure that we have a continuation into next year for those who are coming out of GLAS and that we do not have gaps as they emerge. I am looking at the options for how we do that.”

CAP allocation made to farmers in 2019

In relation to CAP, Independent TD Michael McNamara asked the minister this week to give details of the allocation made to Ireland in 2019; and the amount of allocation paid to farmers that year.

The CAP allocation made to Ireland comprises of the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF) for the programming period 2014 to 2020 and the European Agriculture Rural Development Fund (EAFRD) for the 2014 to 2020 Rural Development Programme.

For the programme period 2014 to 2020, €8.5 billion was allocated to EAGF direct payments for Ireland. The annual ceiling in 2019 for Direct Payments was €1.211 billion of which approximately €1.2 billion has been paid to farmers.

In 2019, Ireland received an additional allocation for the Beef Emergency Aid Measure (BEAM Scheme) from the EAGF, amounting to €50 million. To date, €49.8 million has been paid to farmers from this fund.

€2.19 billion was allocated to Ireland from the EAFRD for the 2014 to 2020 Rural Development Programme. The funding is for the full period of the programme and expenditure up to 2023 is eligible to be claimed against the 2014 to 2020 allocation.

As of December 31, 2019, Ireland incurred expenditure that attracted EAFRD funding of €1.65 billion. Ireland’s execution rate is one of the highest in Europe – the most recent being in excess of 80% as opposed to an EU average of 60%.

In 2019, EAFRD funds claimed in Ireland amounted to €338.6 million, versus an indicative allocation of €312.7 million.