By Joe Dermody
Farmer groups have welcomed the timely roll-out of GLAS scheme payments to 33,000 participants, adding that it is essential that the remaining 16,000 farmers are also paid without delay.
ICMSA’s farm and rural affairs committee chair, Denis Drennan, said farmers appreciate getting the pay run two weeks earlier than the corresponding, initial pay run in 2017. The Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) is the agri-environment scheme funded under the Rural Development Programme, 2014 – 2020.
“It has been an extremely difficult year, when so many factors outside the control of farmers — whether weather, fodder or Brexit — just went against us and placed us in a very tight corner, in terms of cash-flow and running our families and farms,” said Mr Drennan.
The ICMSA has urged, in the event of any delay for remaining participants, that the Department must write to the individuals concerned immediately, explaining the delays and what they must do to remedy the problem.
The IFA has called upon the Department of Agriculture to address any outstanding issues related to 2016 and 2017 GLAS payments, and to ensure that the final 15% for 2018 is paid out as soon as possible.
IFA rural development chairman, Joe Brady, said: “This 85% advance payment, worth €116m, is coming at a vital time, with farm incomes under severe pressure, following this most difficult year.”
Mr Brady reminded farmers yet to submit documentation related to nutrient management plans (2093), commonage plans (11% of comanages/approximately 600 farmers), rare breeds and low emissions spreading to send it in immediately, or risk having their payment delayed.
Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, noted that 7,000 more participants have been paid in the initial tranche, versus the 2017 GLAS payments run.
Minister Creed said: “This GLAS payment, when added to the advance BPS payment and the ANC payments, brings the total issued to Irish farmers in the last six weeks to some €1.1bn. This is a significant boost to on-farm cash-flows and, once again, marks Ireland at the forefront of EU member states, in making advance payments on this scale.”
The Department is hosting an advice helpline on GLAS payments, with extended hours, 9am to 7.30pm on weekdays, and 9am to 1pm on Saturdays, until the end of November: 076-106 4451. See www.agriculture.gov.ie for full details.