It has been confirmed today that 11,500 farmers will be approved into GLAS 2, by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney.
The move means nearly 20% of the over 14,000 farmers who applied to GLAS 2 prior to Christmas will not be accepted.
The acceptance of 11,500 into the scheme will bring the total number of farmers in the Scheme to some 38,000 – a record number of entrants to an agri-environment scheme in a single year.
The Minister confirmed that his Department will be issuing the formal approval letters to successful applicants later this week.
The unprecedented level of applications to the Scheme has meant that for GLAS 2, priority is being given by the Department to what are called Tier 1 and Tier 2 candidates.
‘If unsuccessful farmers are free to apply again’
In setting out his future plans for the Scheme the Minister confirmed that a further tranche of the Scheme will be launched in the Autumn, and that those who were unsuccessful this time round were free to apply again, or indeed to upgrade their applications to increase the chances of success.
Farmers had been urged to present the highest standard environmental plans under GLAS 2, and to adopt actions that would promote them to Tier 2 or even Tier 1 status and the Minister said today that he was delighted that so many had opted to do so.
“The recruitment of over 11,000 new Tier 1 and Tier 2 farmers into GLAS means that at this point in time some 75% of all approved GLAS plans fall into these two categories, ensuring that the funds available under the scheme are being targeted at the area’s most in need and delivering best value-for-money,” he said.
In confirming the completion of his Department’s assessment of Tranche 2 applications the Minister said the level of interest in the GLAS scheme has been unprecedented with some 38,000 farmers approved into the scheme in the last 4 months alone.
“This represents a huge endorsement of the Scheme by Irish farmers and delivers on this Government’s commitment to implementing an accessible agri-environment scheme which recognises the critical role played by Irish farmers in protecting and enhancing our natural resources.”
In addition, the Minister also confirmed that all GLAS 2 applications from new entrants to farming in 2015, and from new farm partnerships, were also being granted priority access under this round, including applications by Tier 3 candidates.
The Minister also accepted the argument made by the various farming organisations that these candidates had been unable to apply under GLAS 1, and were deserving of special consideration. He said he was happy to accommodate these farmers under this round.
50,000 in GLAS by the end of the year
Minister Coveney said the progress to date on GLAS leaves him in no doubt that our total target of 50,000 participants will be met in this third tranche of the Scheme later this year.
“This new tranche will build on the success of the Scheme to date will continue to support Irish farmers who are committed to protecting and nurturing environmentally sensitive areas as part of their farm enterprises,” he said.