Minister for Agriculture has been called on to allow flexibility in the implementation of his new rules for farmers to get into the agri-environment scheme, GLAS by IFA Hill Committee Chairman Pat Dunne.

Dunne said it is clear that the management agreement will be difficult to achieve in some instances and that the Implementation Body chaired by independent Chairman Joe Healy must be allowed scope to allow farmers who have difficulty in meeting the criteria to be let into the GLAS scheme.

He said the Commonage Implementation Committee must be in a position to turn around within two weeks a positive decision on commonages which have a difficulty in reaching the 50% agreement.

In relation to the timescale for the commonage management plans to be completed Pat Dunne said that interim plans should be allowed with finalised plans coming in at a later stage. “This will allow applications to proceed for the GLAS scheme so that significant payments can be made in 2015.”

It is of crucial importance that the GLAS scheme opens without delay so that farmers can plan their entry into the scheme along with their Planners, the IFA man said.

In relation to the minimum stocking level to qualify for Single Farm Payment the IFA Hill Committee Chairman also called for flexibility so that farmers are given every opportunity to become eligible for all payments including the Areas of Natural Constraint. He added that the specific situation on each commonage has got to be taken into account with a reasonable timescale set to meet whatever requirements are necessary.

The IFA man’s comments come in advance of a Hill Farmers for Action Group march in Castlebar next week following months unrest over the Department of Agriculture’s implementation of the new GLAS scheme.

The Hill Farmers for Action group took the decision at an executive meeting. The Group which are calling the protest a ‘march for fairness’ says it will take place in Castlebar on Friday, December 5.