‘GLAS underspend to hit a whopping €377m in current RDP window’

Fianna Fail Agriculture Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue has said that he is shocked at the likely €377m underspend in GLAS payments.

According to new figures received by Deputy McConalogue, only €11.5m was spent on GLAS in 2015, with the average annual payment to date of €4,600.

“GLAS is a key agri-environmental scheme, which replaced REPS and AEOS, and it has been allocated a budget of €1.45 billion over this RDP window to 2020. However, according to the latest data released to me from the Minister, the scheme is falling well behind target.

“Fine Gael announced this scheme to much fanfare back in 2015, committing to an annual allocation of €250m, when fully subscribed.

“Despite this commitment, a mere €11.5m was spent in 2015 and only €142m has been earmarked for next year.”

Take up has been sluggish, with 38,000 out of a projected 50,000 farmers taking part.

Even in a best case scenario, McConalogue said that if 50,000 farmers sign up to GLAS for 2017, with an average yearly payment of €4,600, there will still be an annual underspend of €20m.

“Furthermore, Minister Creed allocated €241.7m for agri-environmental schemes in 2017 in the recent Budget, but failed to disclose how much of this will be allocated to GLAS.

“I have serious concerns that round three of GLAS has still not opened and interested farmers are being penalised because of an IT glitch.”

McConalogue said that this is simply not good enough.

“Farming families in rural Ireland are being burdened by increased financial burdens, the negative impact of a Brexit, price volatility across sectors, stagnant prices for their produce as rural communities struggle to make ends meet.”

He said that the Minister and the Government must ensure that this underspend will not result in farmers losing out on these essential funds and that the full allocation under the scheme must be used within the current RDP window to 2020.