GLAS to open again in mid-October

The introduction of new measures to the Rural Development Plan has been welcomed by IFA Rural Development Committee Chairman Joe Brady.

However, he stressed that further changes to schemes would have helped uptake in the €4bn seven-year programme.

He said it is now important that an early EU decision is secured so that the changes to the RDP can be implemented from January 1, 2017.

Speaking following a meeting of the RDP Monitoring Committee in Kildare this week, Joe Brady said the new Sheep Scheme is a welcome addition and will boost farm income to this low margin sector.

However, he said, the changes to GLAS for tillage farmers will have limited impact, as will the other minor changes to the scheme.

Confirmation was given at the meeting that the third phase of GLAS will open in mid-October with the expectation that more than 50,000 farmers would be in the scheme from January 1 next.

The Minister for Agriculture has warned farmers to submit the highest standard plans in order to secure entry.

The Minister’s comments are a clear signal that not all applicants to the final tranche of the scheme will be certain of their acceptance.

The overall target for the scheme is to attract 50,000 farmers into the scheme. Some 38,000 farmers have been approved into the first two Tranches of the scheme, 26,500 in GLAS 1 and 11,500 in GLAS 2.

Taking these numbers into account, in the region of 12,000 farmers will be accepted into the final tranche.

The Minister said recently that he intends to launch this third GLAS tranche later this year and all farmers not already in the scheme, including those who were unsuccessful in their applications for the first two tranches will have the opportunity to submit a new application to GLAS 3 when the scheme opens.

Some 2,500 Tier 3 applicants were not accepted into the second tranche of the scheme.

“I want to reiterate that when preparing applications, it is important that farmers, in consultation with their advisors, ensure that the highest standard environmental plans are presented to the Department, to increase their chance of selection into GLAS 3,” the Minister said recently.

Joe Brady expressed disappointment that no additional items have been added to the TAMS scheme.

He said the commitment to finally start the process for the locally led agri-environment schemes in Hen Harrier, Fresh Pearl Water and other areas is long overdue as there is a total of €70m allocated to this measure in the RDP.

At the meeting, IFA urged the full implementation of all measures to ensure full utilisation of funding up to 2020. Concern was expressed with delays in the processing of schemes due IT issues in the Department of Agriculture.