Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney must immediately clarify his new commonage rules and proceed immediately with public meetings and clinics in all hill areas to explain the implications for farmers according to IFA Hill Committee Chairman.

Pat Dunne said that the longer this issue goes on the more fear and anger will grow, as there is a lack of clarity on the new rules. Last week’s announcement by the Minister on the minimum stocking level to secure Single Farm Payment was long overdue but he must now go further to sort out the Pillar II GLAS issues.

The IFA Hill Chairman said at the recent Commonage Implementation Committee (CIC) chaired by Joe Healy, it is clear that there are many unanswered questions. The CIC’s task is to deal with many of the problems and get solutions. Also, planners are being left in the dark and they do not know how the GLAS rules will apply and how much flexibility will be given. The Department of Agriculture proposal of one planner for each commonage is totally unacceptable. Furthermore, the Minister should direct his Department to draw up the plan in a similar way that they did the Commonage Framework Plans 10 years which was paid for by the Department.

Pat Dunne said it is up to the Minister now to now bring about clarity so that the misinformation which feeds on the fear of farmers can be adequately addressed. The critical issue for farmers in hill areas is to get the GLAS scheme up and running as soon as possible with the necessary flexibilities. No barriers must be put in the way of effective implementation of GLAS and pressing the EU Commission for early approval is now urgently required from the Minister. Also, the upcoming Budget is a real test of the Government’s commitment to the new GLAS scheme as adequate funding must be provided so that significant payments can be made in 2015.