IFA calls for GLAS flexibility for expiring land leases

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has called for flexibility for farmers with land leases due to expire and who are in the Green, Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS).

Following a meeting with officials from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, IFA rural development chairperson Michael Biggins called for the GLAS roll-over into next year to be a “simple process without additional costs”, and for payment levels to be “fully maintained”.

“Flexibility must be given to farmers with land leases due to expire. Farmers must have the option to move to another parcel if needed,” he argued.

The IFA noted that GLAS participants will be contacted shortly and given the option to ‘opt-in’ or ‘opt-out’ of the extension period.

Biggins went on to call for payments to be extended to April of next year for derogation farmers who participated in the GLAS low-emission slurry spreading (LESS) action.

Sheep Welfare Scheme

In other IFA related news, the association is also seeking changes to the references years for the Sheep Welfare Scheme for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) transitions period.

“The reference years do not accurately reflect the current flock of many sheep farmers within the scheme and need to be changed,” said IFA sheep chairperson Sean Dennehy.

He also called for new entrants to be let into the scheme.

The department originally allocated €25 million a year to this scheme. However, only €17 million has been earmarked for 2021, reflecting the current levels of participation.

“We need to do all we can to encourage generational renewal on sheep farms in Ireland and changing the reference years and allowing new entrants are necessary steps in the right direction,” Dennehy argued.