Over 20% of the entire budget for GLAS will be directed towards payments of one action the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney has revealed.

Recent weeks have seen some of the most popular measures available to farmers in the first tranche of GLAS pulled from the second tranche which is set to be opened within days.

Responding to question on the move recently, the Minister said on the basis of the plans submitted for the 27,000 applications received to date under Tranche 1 of GLAS, it is clear that Ireland has already met or exceeded its targets for the entire RDP period for some GLAS actions.

These include the Low Input Permanent Pasture action and the Planting of New Hedgerows.

“For this reason, it is proposed to adjust the provision for the Low Input Permanent Pasture (LIPP) action under the second tranche of GLAS, in recognition of the fact that we have already met all our targets.

“As things stand, over 20% of the entire budget for GLAS will be directed towards payments of this one action,” he said.

However, according to the Minister, it will still be possible to take up to 10ha of either LIPP or Traditional Hay Meadow as before, but the LIPP component will be limited to 5ha.

“Instead, I would like to see more farmers avail of the Traditional Hay Meadow option, which attracts the same rate of payment,” he said.

The Minister said these proposed changes have been notified to the European Commission, as required, and their final response is expected very shortly.

He also said he does not expect the changes outlined to certain actions for Tranche 2 will seriously impinge on anyone’s ability to develop an effective GLAS plan, or to draw down the optimum payment for their farm under the new scheme.

“On the contrary, many of these changes I intend to introduce, including those for the various bird actions, will make it much easier to draw up an effective plan at farm level, he said.

‘Watered down GLAS’

IFA President Eddie Downey has accused the Minister for of attempting to water down GLAS by excluding many farmers from the second phase of the scheme, as well as taking out some key measures and reducing the impact of others.

Eddie Downey said, “While the opening of the scheme in early October is to be welcomed, making the scheme available to an additional 10,000 applicants only is a major disappointment and will lead to the exclusion of many farmers from the scheme. Minister Coveney must revisit this and allow 20,000 farmers in the next phase”.

Meanwhile, IFA’s Rural Development Chairman Flor McCarthy has said that the proposed changes to the scheme will narrow the options for many farmers.

“Limiting the low-input permanent pasture and traditional hay meadows to 5ha each will mean some farmers will get less money from the scheme,” he said.