The agreement reached between the Department of Agriculture and the Hill Farmers Action Group concerning access to the new GLAS scheme has been warmly welcomed by Independent MEP Marian Harkin.

She said:“The Hill Farmers Action Group has secured a vital agreement for which they deserve every praise and the appreciation of all farmers who had been faced with the prospect of virtual exclusion from the vitally important GLAS scheme.

“The Teagasc Report published this week indicated that the largest number of economically vulnerable farms are in the Border region and the West of Ireland with 43% of all border area farms deemed vulnerable compared with 19% in the South West. It is obvious therefore that without schemes like GLAS hill farms would face extinction in the years ahead.

“The agreement reached this week will significantly help a large number of these farms to survive and the Hill Farmers Action Group can be very proud of what they have accomplished for many vulnerable farm enterprises.

“I had organised a meeting on the issue for next week with the Head of Rural Development in the European Commission and the senior officer responsible for the Irish desk but had always stressed to the Hill Farmers that the best solution would be achieved at home. I warmly welcome this agreement and the fact that common sense has prevailed is a tribute to all concerned.