The first approvals for GLAS will start to issue to 27,000 farmer applicants next week, the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney has said.

On the basis of expected intake, expenditure on GLAS will be €20m, the Minister said.

Speaking in the Dail this week the Minister also hit back at criticism of the roll-out of the second tranche of the scheme whilst speaking in the Dail today. He said there aren’t cutbacks in the scheme and added that the Department always said the ‘maximum’ payment would be €5,000.

“We said that the average payment would be very close to the maximum payment as vast amount of farmers would be able to draw down the full amount,” the Minister said.

According to Minister Coveney, €250m will be spent on the scheme per year, when 50,000 farmers are in.

“We always said that it would be on a phased basis and there will be 36,000 next year,” he said.

The Department of Agriculture will be increasing the advanced payment to farmers in the first GLAS tranche this autumn, according the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney.

He made the commitment at a hearing of the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and Marine recently.

At the meeting, the Minister said the Department is hoping to increase the advanced payment from 75% to 85%.

This will see the Department’s spend on the scheme increased from €20m to €22m in 2015.

All applications to the first GLAS tranche are now being assessed and the Department has said applicants will be notified in writing in October of the outcome of their application and of their contract commencement date.

According to the payment dates agreed in the Farmers Charter, the Department targets to commence payments to farmers under GLAS from the third week of October.