It is expected that approximately 15,000 farmers will avail of the GLAS support network made available through Teagasc, according to the organisation’s head of Environment and Knowledge Transfer Pat Murphy.

“We have 40,000 clients in total and we are expecting that just under half this number will sign up to the GLAS advisory services that we have put in place.

“A lot of work has been done in very short space of time to get the scheme up and running. In our case, we have appointed Farm Relief Services to provide the consultancy input required on our behalf. This arrangement was arrived at following a public tendering process.”

Murphy confirmed that Teagasc is currently hosting GLAS advisory meetings for its current clients at venues around the country.

“We are not using these to acquire new clients,” he said

“As a result, these are not public meetings: rather we are issuing individual invites to clients. There will be no more than 50 people attending each venue.

“Given that we will be liaising with small groups of people, it will be feasible to fully explain the details of the scheme and to discuss the registration and other requirements, so as to ensure that farmers can access the programme in the most feasible way possible.”

Murphy admitted that the Department of Agriculture has encountered online problems with the GLAS scheme over recent days.

“That was to be expected. But what I can confirm is that the new programme will work extremely well once all the glitches have been ironed out.

“I am also aware that the list of certified GLAS consultants has yet to be published in full. My understanding is that it will be updated on a daily basis by the Department. Fundamentally, what we are dealing with is a scenario that has seen a huge effort put in by Department officials in order to get GLAS off the ground this year.

“To their credit they have managed to do just that and I think they should be cut a little bit of slack as they strive to dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ where the new scheme is concerned.”