The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has announced that the 2019 advance payments for the Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) will commence this week.

These payments are being made two weeks earlier than last year and to a higher number of farmers than in previous years of the scheme, the minister explained.

Minister Creed said: “I am delighted to confirm that that GLAS advance payments are commencing this week with 38,000 farmers receiving payments valued at over €134 million. These payments are a valuable support for farmers across Ireland and are a welcome boost to the wider rural economy.

I am delighted that these payments have commenced ahead of schedule and 10 days earlier than last year. I have also secured EU Commission agreement for the higher advance payment rate of 85% for 2019.

“I am happy to confirm that the number of farmers paid in this initial tranche of advance payments represents an increase of 5,000 over the number of farmers paid in the first round last year,” Minister Creed added.

He went on to say that: “GLAS is Ireland’s flagship agri-environment scheme and is delivering significant climate, biodiversity and water quality benefits on Irish farms.

“It is important to recognise the value of these public goods and the role which the CAP [Common Agricultural Policy] plays in delivering them.

I would encourage all stakeholders to engage with the CAP consultation process currently underway to help shape the future of Irish agri-environment policy.

The minister also explained that payments would continue to be made as cases are cleared, and weekly pay runs will continue over the coming weeks.

Farmers who have been contacted by the department in relation to the scheme are encouraged to respond “as soon as possible”.

The minister also urged the small number of GLAS 3 participants who have not yet completed a GLAS training course “to do so immediately”.

The GLAS help desk for farmers with queries can be contacted on: 076-1064451.