Commonage Implementation Committee Chairperson to be appointed ‘shortly’

It is expected that a chairperson will be appointed to the Commonage Implementation Committee shortly, the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, has said.

Responding to a parliamentary question from Sinn Fein TD Martin Kenny, the Minister said that proposals regarding the terms of appointment of a new independent chairperson have been submitted.

Minister Creed said that these proposals were submitted to the Department of Public of Expenditure for approval and that the chairperson is expected to be appointed shortly.

It has been almost one year exactly since the last meeting of the Commonage Implementation Committee which took place on November 27, 2015.

A meeting of the committee will be convened once a new chairperson has been appointed, Minister Creed has said.

The last chairperson of the Commonage Implementation Committee was Joe Healy, who is now the President of the IFA.

The committee has two main terms of reference, according to the Department of Agriculture. The first of which is to examine cases where there is disagreement by shareholders over proposed minimum/maximum stocking levels for commonages

Secondly, it is to assist with instances where difficulties emerge in securing the necessary 50% agreement amongst active shareholders for participation in the GLAS agri-environmental scheme.

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture is making arrangements to deal with the issue of commonage farmers being left without GLAS planners to complete their commonage management plans.

Over 350 commonages are understood to be affected, as the planners who were contracted by tender under GLAS 2 were released from their contracts in the time since tranche two of the scheme closed.

A spokesperson for the Department said that it is aware of the situation and that its priority is to ensure that the affected farmers get paid at the same time as other GLAS applicants.

With nothing in place to date to transfer the plans over, the affected farmers remain in limbo for the time being.