Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on Agriculture & Food Éamon Ó Cuív has expressed his concern following confirmation from the Minister that payments under the GLAS scheme will not be paid out until 2016 at the earliest.

According to Ó Cuív applications are not being accepted until next year, and Minister Coveney has now admitted that the first tranche of payments will not be made until 2016. Some 30,000 farmers are expected to enter the Green Low Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS).

Deputy Ó Cuív commented, “Thousands of farmers will be out of pocket as they’re forced to wait for their GLAS payments to come through. This money will not be paid out next year as the transition from REPS to GLAS takes place. For many farmers involved in high nature farming REPS was the largest payment received from the Department. These farmers can ill afford to have this funding delayed as they’re already under pressure from rising operating costs and reduced agri payments.

“I’m gravely concerned about the bureaucratic process that farmers will be put through in order to secure GLAS funding. In response to a parliamentary question on the issue, Minister Coveney has confirmed that no payment will be made when the GLAS contract is signed. Instead, farmers will be subjected to administrative and on-the-spot checks before any funding is released. Even then, only 75% of the amount due will be handed over, with the remaining 25% not paid until all controls have been implemented. Because of these new regulations, farmers will have to wait until 2016 before the first payments begin to filter down. In some cases farmers will have been waiting up to 5 years to re-enter an agri-environmental scheme and will be subjected to serious income losses in the intervening period.

“New conditions set out by the Minister in the draft Rural Development Programme only serve to limit the number of farmers eligible for the GLAS scheme, resulting in many, particularly commonage farmers, being excluded from this essential funding programme. I’m calling on Minister Coveney to reconsider these new proposals, and particularly the GLAS scheme to make it less bureaucratic and more farmer friendly to ensure that those who qualify for the funding are not impeded from drawing it down”.