Up to 20,000 farmers will not have the opportunity to apply for the new GLAS scheme, according to Fianna Fáil agriculture spokesman Éamon Ó Cuiv.

“Minister Coveney has committed to ensuring that up to 30,000 farmers will gain entry to GLAS,” he said.

“By my calculations, the real figure will be closer to 10,000. This assumes that the Minister cannot extend the close of application date beyond the middle of May.

Ó Cuív bases his figures on the premise that certified consultants will be able to complete no more than 2 GLAS plans per week.

“Approximately 500 advisors are qualified to carry out this work, which means that only 1,000 plans will be submitted to the Department of Agriculture per week up to the deadline date of May 15.

“There are only 10 working weeks between now and the closing date for applications: hence my assertion that only 10,000 farmers will be accepted for the GLAS programme.”

In addition to the negative impact this eventuality will have at individual farm level, Ó Cuív believes the pending GLAS debacle will have major implications for Irish agriculture as a whole.

“As I had previously predicted there will be a massive under spend in the context of the new agri environment scheme,” he said.

“The actual figure may well exceed €100m over the next five years. This is money that will be absorbed back into the exchequer. It cannot be re-directed back into agriculture through other means.

“As a consequence, Irish farmers will lose out significantly. Adding to the problems created by the Department of Agriculture is the delay in getting the names all of the certified GLAS consultants published.

“There is a also a host of challenges facing farmers in finding the ways by which they can make best use of the GLAS funding measures that are available. So is the new scheme fit for purpose? I don’t think so.”

READ: Department says GLAS issues will be ‘ironed out’