The technical problems encountered by farmers attempting to sign up on-line for the new GLAS programme will be sorted out as a matter of priority, according to a Department of Agriculture spokesman.

“We are aware of the frustrations encountered by farmers in this regard. It was to be expected that there would be some early problems concerning the new programme,” he said.

“These matters are now being actively addressed. Department officials met representatives of the IFA on this matter on Friday. And we have given a commitment to meet with the other farming bodies, as required, until this matter is resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.

Regarding the published list of qualified GLAS consultants, the Department spokesman said that this would be updated on a daily basis.

Approximately 500 advisors have been certified for the scheme but, to date, only 259 names have been officially published on the Department of Agriculture website.

The IFA confirmed that the online problems relating to the GLAS scheme were ‘ironed out’ at the meeting with Department of Agriculture officials.

Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) General Secretary Eddie Punch confirmed that his staff had received a number of enquiries regarding the out workings of the GLAS scheme.

“But what is becoming apparent is the reality that there is nothing in the new measure for smaller lowland producers seeking to maximise the output from their farms,” he said.

“For example, a man farming 80 to 100 acres cannot afford to ring fence 10% of his land area and dedicate this to traditional hay meadow production. This is in total contrast to the support measures available under the former REPS programme, which provided farmers with realistic, area-based payments.

“There is a philosophical argument which must be made at the highest level in Brussels in order to secure future agri environment schemes that make practical sense for Irish farmers.”