Coveney urges excluded GLAS 2 farmers to ‘re-examine their plans’

Farmers who were not accepted into the second tranche of the GLAS scheme have been urged to re-examine their plans, by the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney.

The level of applications to the Scheme has meant that for GLAS 2, the Department has decided that priority is being given to what are called Tier 1 and Tier 2 candidates. This has meant that up to 2,500 of the 14,000 farmers that applied to GLAS 2 will not be accepted.

Tier 1 and 2 candidates include  those who either manage key environmental assets like endangered birds, protected habitats or high-quality water courses, or who have committed to undertake particularly valuable environmental actions like growing feed-crops for wild birds, adopting low-impact tillage techniques or using low-emission slurry spreading methods.

Minister Coveney has said that farmers had been urged to present the highest standard environmental plans under GLAS 2, and to adopt actions that would promote them from Tier 3 to a higher tier, thereby significantly increasing the chance of selection.

“I am delighted that over 80% of applicants in this second tranche of GLAS opted to do so, and with the funding available to me I have been able to approve all of these,” he said recently.

In addition, the Minister says all GLAS 2 applications from new entrants to farming in 2015, and from new farm partnerships, have been granted priority access under this round, because of difficulties they had in applying under GLAS 1. This includes applications by new entrants or partnerships from Tier 3.

This, he says includes applications by new entrants or partnerships from Tier 3.

According to Minister Coveney, a third tranche of GLAS will open later this year and any applicant who was unsuccessful this time round has the opportunity now to re-examine their proposed farm-plan in consultation with their advisor and see how it might be improved to increase their chance of selection under GLAS 3.

‘Farmers left high and dry’

IFA Rural Development Chairman Flor McCarthy is continuing to call on the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to allow the 2,500 Tier 3 GLAS applicants into the scheme.

Speaking at a meeting of IFA’s National Rural Development Committee in Dublin this week, McCarthy said it is unacceptable that these farmers are being left high and dry by the Minister, particularly as these low-income farmers are very dependent on direct payments such as GLAS.

“By refusing to allow these farmers into the scheme, the Minister has backtracked on a commitment that he made at Budget time that at least 13,000 farmers would be allowed into the scheme.

The IFA Rural Development Chairman said that in the Rural Development Plan 2014-2020 it is envisaged that 50,000 farmers would join the GLAS scheme.

“At this stage nearly 38,000 farmers will be in the scheme. Telling the 2,500 farmers that they can apply later in the year for the next phase of GLAS will result in these farmers getting no payment at all in 2016,” he said.