The 2020 advance payments under the Green, Low-Carbon, Agri Environment Scheme (GLAS) will commence this week, which is two weeks ahead of schedule, according to the Department of Agriculture.

€138 million will arrive in almost 40,000 GLAS farmers’ bank accounts this week, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue said.

Announcing the news, Minister McConalogue said: “I am delighted to confirm that advance payments to just under 40,000 GLAS participants, worth over €138 million, will issue this week.

“Farmers across the country, in what has been a particularly challenging year, will benefit from these payments.

These advance payments at a rate of 85% of the full annual payment are an important support to farmers in the delivery of key environmental actions. They are also of importance to the wider rural economy.

The minister continued, adding: “I have previously outlined that a key priority for my department is the efficient issuing of scheme payments to farmers.

“I am very pleased that these payments are commencing two weeks ahead of our stated target of mid-November and are issuing to a higher number of participants than last year.

“Overall, compared to this time last year we are paying €4 million more to 3% more scheme participants which is a fantastic outcome in light of Covid-19 restrictions.”

In order to facilitate farmers wishing to contact the department regarding their GLAS payments, extended hours are in place for the GLAS Helpline that will be open from Monday to Friday and on the morning of Saturday, November 7, and Saturday, November 14, up to 1:30pm.

The GLAS Helpdesk can be contacted at 076-1064451.

Minister McConalogue added: “When combined, payments under the 2020 Areas of Natural Constraints Scheme (ANC) which started in September and the advance Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments which commenced on the earliest possible date of October 16, 2020, together with GLAS Advance payments mean that payments of over €1.12 billion have now issued to Irish farmers since September.

“The good news for these GLAS participants is that they now have the certainty of participating in the scheme for next year if they wish thanks to us securing the funding allocation in the budget.

“I am pleased that we have achieved this and avoided the issues of the past where scheme participants did not have this certainty when transitioning from one Rural Development Programme (RDP) to another,” the minister concluded.