Farmers advised to ‘keep the faith’ as planners say getting €5,000 in GLAS will be ‘difficult’

Roscommon planner Seamus Cusack said there has been plenty of interest from farmers in his area in the GLAS scheme, but that it will be difficult to get farmers up to the maximum €5,000 payout under the scheme.

“The biggest issue is the cap on low input permanent grazing measure at 10/ha, that is really effecting farmers in this area, he said.

According to Cusack the average payment amongst his clients looks set to be in the region of €3,000.

“But it’s very dependent on the farm in question, with some getting more and some less.”

Cusack said in terms of cost it has been difficult to identify what to charge farmers due to the variability of payment.

“Its hard to charge one farmer who may only receive a payment of €2,500 while another may get the maximum €5,000 payment.

“I will most likely charge 10% + vat of the payment the farmer receives,” he said.

Individual farmer GLAS payments look set to be very variable

The amounts farmers look likely to draw down from GLAS is set to be very variable, according to well known Cork Agricultural Consultant Mike Brady.

Brady said while many farmers may reach the maximum payment others might be less fortunate depending on the individual farm.

“I understand why people are irritated with the Department of Agriculture, over certain elements of the scheme – its roll out in particular.

“However, I also understand the challenges the Department face when rolling out such a scheme,” he said.

According to Brady, while schemes such as this are important in his area “we don’t and live and die by them.

“Although, in saying that, most of our clients are ringing in about the scheme and there is a lot of interest for all types of farmers,” he said

Brady said there are three types of farmers contacting him.

“You have the guys who are definitely going to apply, others who are coming to us for advice as to whether or not GLAS offers something for them, and then others who usually wouldn’t apply for schemes such as this but are interested this time around.”

While there has been a lot of criticism of the scheme from some quarters, Brady says GLAS could well could well turn out to be the ‘dream scheme’.

“The scheme meets EU legislation, looks relatively easy to roll out once some technical problems are resolved, there is a definite environmental benefit, there is a margin in it for farmers and it looks like there will be a margin in it for planners.

“This is an impressive achievement for the Department,” Brady said.

GLAS teething problems

Teething problems for the GLAS application process have become apparent in recent days, according to Fergal Monaghan.

Of particular concern, he said is the reduced period for the completion of the Commonage Management Plans.

The current position is that these have to be in place by July 3.

“What happens if this does not happen is not yet clear but I presume that the individual applications from the farmers affected would fail.”

“While these people will be accommodated in the second tranche of applications, their payments will, inevitably, be delayed,” he said.

On private land, Monaghan said many commentators have identified the issues regarding claiming payments for linear features like stonewalls on divided land parcels.

He said this is completely illogical, but an equally serious issue is the suggestion that not to allow payment under the Low Input Permanent Pasture option on land that contains any heather.

“This will have serious consequences for farmers with privately owned upland grassland plots.

“Interestingly, this ban on heather within LIPP parcels is not in either the scheme specifications or in the terms and conditions documents, rather it is in the answers to commonly asked questions published on the Department of Agriculture’s website,” he said.

According to Monaghan, there is still potential for movement on this and farmers and planners alike should keep the pressure up on the Department to correct what he called a ‘blatantly unfair anomaly’.

However in spite of the difficulties, Monaghan says GLAS does present significant opportunities not only in terms of payments but also as a mechanism to address management issues and to help safeguard payments from the Basic Payment Scheme and the areas facing Natural Constraints Scheme.

He is advising his farmers to ‘keep the faith’.