Almost 400 commonages around Ireland are without an approved GLAS planner to complete commonage management plans.

The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) met with the Department of Agriculture last week, and it confirmed that 389 commonages still have no planner approved to complete a Commonage Management Plan (CMP).

INHFA CAP Chairman Colm O Donnell said that, for the most part, these are commonages where applicants had applied for the Commonage Management Plan (CMP) action under Glas 2 of the scheme.

O Donnell said that Commonage Management Plans must be lodged and approved by October, before the European Commission would clear payment for the full year of 2016 for both Glas 1 and 2 CMP applicants.

“While the guide document (Glas circular 32/2015) for the completion of the CMP was circulated to approved planners on August 11, 2015 and training provided by the Department, including field training of these planners, no Commonage Management Plan has been lodged or accepted to date.”

He said that the software to complete the online CMP function is still under development and while not yet given to approved planners, the content will be similar to GLAS circular 32/2015.

“At this stage most if not all of the field work should be completed by advisors and farmers who have applied for Glas 1 need to know their individual minimum stocking rates allocated to them as this action was to be achieved by the end of 2016.

“With decisions now being made by hill farmers with regard to numbers and with breeding sales commencing  shortly, these CMP’s need to be completed very quickly so as to avoid possible base line breaches where stocking rates are not in place.”

He called on the Department to give flexibility on stocking targets to those farmers who have applied for GLAS 2 under the Commonage Management Plan action where an approved advisor has not yet been appointed.

“It is virtually impossible to expect these cases to catch up ,i.e. advisors to conduct assessments,inform shareholders,and meet proposed stocking rates by the end of 2016.”

He said the organisation has suggested to the Department that these affected farmers are given until the end of 2017 to meet their individual minimum and the commonage minimum extended to the end of 2019.

“Every effort must be made to ensure that hill farmers in the scheme get paid on time because of the very significant investment required in year one, which includes paying for the CMP and buying in replacement breeding stock.”