Further GLAS grazing extension for traditional hay meadows ruled out

A further extension to the closing date for grazing livestock on land containing the Traditional Hay Meadow (THM) requirement under the Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) has been ruled out.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, poured cold water on the proposal in his response to a recent parliamentary question from Fianna Fail TD Declan Breathnach.

Deputy Breathnach recently asked whether a further extension to the grazing period on THMs in GLAS until May 14, 2018, would be considered due to the hardship caused by the fodder crisis in recent months.

Commenting on the matter, the minister said: “In order to alleviate the current forage supply problem, one of the initiatives put in place was an extension to the end date for grazing livestock on land containing the THM action under the GLAS scheme – with grazing by livestock permitted up to May 1 this year.

“The THM action under GLAS promotes the maintenance of a traditional method of forage conservation that is beneficial to grassland flora and fauna.

“My priority is to ensure that farmers continue to qualify to receive payment of €315/ha for this action.

There are currently no further plans to extend the period.

Prior to the extension being announced by Minister Creed, the grazing deadline had been pencilled in for April 15.

Balancing GLAS payments

Meanwhile, Minister Creed anticipates that 15% balancing payments under the scheme will begin to commence later this month. His department began issuing 85% advance payments to participants in the scheme in December of last year.

In recent weeks, the department confirmed that over 99% of all eligible applicants are fully up to date with their payments.

Continuing, the minister said: “Balancing payments for the GLAS scheme can only commence when the member state has verified that all eligibility conditions have been met.

“This is a requirement in the relevant EU Payment Regulations and is a long-standing EU audit requirement.

The department is currently undertaking the verification process. It is anticipated that GLAS balancing payments will commence later this month.

“I would encourage any GLAS applicant with outstanding obligations, such as the submission of a Nutrient Management Plan or a Commonage Management Plan to speak to their advisor and ensure that this work is completed as a priority.

“Without the submission of all the required information, these applicants will be ineligible for further GLAS payments,” Minister Creed concluded.