The second tranche of GLAS will open next month to applications according to the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.
The Minister confirmed at the Ploughing Championships that it would open the week of October 12. However, the new tranche will not include some of the most popular measures of the first tranche, including the planting of hedgerows.
A total of €1.4bn has been allocated to GLAS over the lifetime of the programme, allowing a standard ‘package’ of up to €5,000 for eligible farmers per annum, with an additional package of €2,000 per annum for those in GLAS+, in return for exceptional environmental commitment.
With competition for places in the scheme likely to be fierce the Department has prioritised applications from commonage farmers and those with designated land.
The Department is currently ranking and validating the applications of some 26,000 farmers who applied to GLAS Tranche I before the May 26 deadline.
All current indications suggest that the second tranche will be heavily weighted towards Tier 1, i.e. Commonage, SAC/SPA, Rare breeds and organic farmers.
It is expected that a total of 10,000 places will be available with the application period is set to close in mid-November.
- GLAS will have 50,000 participants when the scheme is full.
- Approximately 26,000 of these places have already been filled.
- Another 10,000 will be filled by the end of the year.
- There are approximately 15,000 farmers with commonage and around 20,000 with SAC/SPA land (considerable overlap between the two groups).
According to figures from the Department of Agriculture, in the region of 9,000 commonage farmers were among the 26,000 that join GLAS in the first tranche.
Another group categorised as Tier 1 are intensive farmers (dairy, beef, sheep farms) who can also qualify for priority access if they have a whole farm stocking rate of over 140kg N/ha, or tillage farmers can qualify if they have more than 30ha of arable crops.
There have been some suggestions that applications from this group could be higher in the second GLAS tranche as many dairy farmers in particular may see the scheme as more attractive in the context of falling milk prices.
With such a large number of ‘Tier 1’ yet to join the scheme it is now likely that places for farmers in other tiers will be limited particularly those farmers categorised as Tier 3.
Some 37% of applications to the first tranche of GLAS came from ‘Tier 3’ farmers. Tier 3 consists of farmers carrying out a range of complementary actions such as the protection of traditional hay meadows, species-rich pastures, important landscape features like archaeological monuments, hedgerows and stone-walls, as well as provision of bird, bat and bee nesting facilities and the planting of small groves of native trees.
Latest speculation suggests that a third GLAS tranche will open with the remaining 14-15 thousand places in early summer 2016, although this has yet to be confirmed by the Department. Even then it seems likely now that places for Tier 3 farmers could be limited.
For many farmers in this position improving their ranking to Tier 2 is an option.
If there is still availability in the scheme, after the Tier 1 demand has been met, then Tier 2 farmers will be given access.