Department urged to make ‘early decision’ on scheme extensions

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has been called on to make “an early decision” to allow for the extension of the Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) and the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS).

Michael Biggins, the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) rural development chairperson, was speaking after a meeting with department officials today (Tuesday, October 6) when he said: “36,000 farmers, who are currently in GLAS 1 and 2, need certainty that their plans will be extended into 2021 and beyond if necessary, under EU CAP [Common Agricultural Policy] transitional rules”.

“It is vitally important that a decision to extend GLAS plans is made soon, as the last thing farmers need is uncertainty and a rush to get extensions in before the end of the year,” Biggins added.

At the meeting, the IFA rural development chairperson called for a “simple process” to extend plans, and that payment levels should be maintained.

On the issue of TAMS, the IFA representatives were told by the department that tranche 19 will close on October 31 and tranche 20 will close on December 31.

Some 4,688 farmers applied under tranche 18, which closed in August. 70% of those will shortly get an approval to proceed.

Biggins argued that the carryover of unapproved applicants from one tranche into another is “totally unsatisfactory” and he called on the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to resolve the issue.

Like GLAS, an early decision on an extension to TAMS is now important as the investment plans of farmers must not be put on hold pending a new investment scheme in the next CAP.

Biggins added that the IFA is seeking an additional allocation of €38 million in next week’s Budget 2021, to bring total TAMS funding to €120 million.