Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said the 38,000 farmers joining the GLAS scheme to date is a record total for a single year’s entry.
This total includes the 11,500 farmers approved this week for GLAS 2, the second tranche of the Green Low-carbon Agri-Environment Scheme.
Payment priority is being given to Tier 1 and Tier 2 candidates, those managing endangered birds, protected habitats or high-quality water courses, or those growing feed-crops for wild birds, adopting low-impact tillage techniques or using low-emission slurry spreading methods.
Some 75% of all approved GLAS plans fall into these two categories.
Tier 3 candidates who are either new entrants to farming or who have entered into farm partnerships are also prioritised.
Mr Coveney said: “I am in no doubt that our total target of 50,000 participants will be met in this third tranche of the Scheme later this year.”
IFA rural development chair Flor McCarthy criticised the minister for excluding 2,500 farmers from this phase of GLAS, citing a budget-time commitment that at least 13,000 farmers would be allowed into the scheme.
He called on the minister to reverse this decision and to allow entry to all 14,000 farmers who applied in the first phase.
The minister said that a further tranche of GLAS will be launched in the autumn.
Those applicants who were unsuccessful this time round are invited to apply again, and may upgrade their applications to increase the chances of success.
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