A ‘close to final’ document on the GLAS scheme will be published next week, according to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Speaking in the Dail today, he was answering a question from Fianna Fail’s Eamon O Cuiv in relation to the scheme. He said O Cuiv was a great man to sow worry into people’s minds, and assured farmers that payments would be made as soon as possible. However, he said he needs approval from the European Commission on the Rural Development programme and hopes to get this by mid-June.

A ‘close to final’ document will be published next week, he said and he said he hopes for approval towards the end of the year.

The Minister also said that one of the major challenges facing the agricultural sector is the age profile of farmers, with more than half over 55 years of age. He also said the number of farmers under 35 has more than halved to 6% in recent years. He pointed to a number of taxation measures which are available for intergenerational farm transfers, including stamp duty exemption and agricultural relief on Capital Gains Tax, which are designed to encourage more transfers.

“Getting younger farmers who are more dynamic and more ambitions and better educated, into farming, in necessary if we are planning for a growth period in agriculture and want to the be the leading country in agricultural innovation we need a new generation of farmers. It’s starting to happen – there are more people in agricultural colleges and course than ever before.”