The application period closing dates for the new Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 CAP support schemes should have been put back by at least two months, according to Galway-based agricultural consultant Vincent Costello.

“The decisions taken by farmers now will determine the viability of their businesses for the next five years,” he said.

“So, yes, the proposal by European Farm Commissioner Phil Hogan to put back the closing dates for the various schemes will be broadly welcomed by farmers and consultants.

“The other deadline of note on the horizon is that for the completion of the new commonage framework plans. These are to be submitted by July 3. Farmers, who are members of a commonage, will submit their GLAS forms over the next few weeks,” he said.

“But these must be supplemented by a framework plan on behalf of the whole group. And these will talk time to compile, as the person completing the document must walk the entire area covered by the commonage. So, again, there is scope to put the framework plan application date back as well.”

Costello pointed out that farmers must take the required time now to assess how best to draw down their new single entitlements.

“Nobody gets a second chance at this,” he said.

“Decisions taken over the coming weeks will be set in stone for the next five years. And I would strongly urge farmers to get all the relevant professional advice they need before submitting this year’s Pillar 1 form.”

Co. Kilkenny-based consultant Declan Dempsey confirmed that serious technical problems still exist for consultants and farmers wishing to submit a GLAS plan.

“It is still not possible to register the likes of catch crops on the GLAS site and subdividing parcels of land is extremely difficult. So I welcome the proposal to put back the close of application dates for all the 2015 schemes,” he said.

“I also hope that the Department can iron out the glitches on the GLAS web site as quickly as possible.”