Last week’s opening of an online GLAS system allowed advisors to start preparing the necessary proposals for their clients in the new agri-environmental scheme.
“Completed proposals may then be formally submitted when the first tranche opens, following confirmation of the agreed content of the Rural Development Programme, which is expected shortly,” said Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney.
Opening the website allowed uploading of plans and maps to go ahead.
Mr Coveney said, “Farmers should be talking with their planners today about agreeing a time-frame for putting their plans in place.”
May 15 is the closing date for 2015 GLAS applications. “For all area-based payment schemes, we must have a deadline of the middle of May, under the regulations,” said the Minister.
Applications will be made by about 400 planners outside of Teagasc, and Teagasc is working with the farm relief service to take on extra help to get plans in place.
Mr Coveney said, “We are looking to accommodate later closing dates for commonages, which I recognise is a genuine concern, but I hope they will not be necessary.”
“We have €20 million in a budget that I want to get out to farmers under GLAS.
“I want them to be involved for the last three months of the year.
“If we are to do that, we must get applications in by the middle of May so that we can assess them over the summer and make decisions as soon as we can afterwards.”
“Many plans will be straightforward.
“The commonage plans will also be straightforward, but if issues arise with its implementation, we are not going to disqualify anybody simply because it is not in place in time.
“As long as farmers apply and commit to acting in a way that is consistent with the commonage GLAS plan, they will be able to submit their applications earlier and the plan will confirmed subsequently.”
“If they are struggling to find or agree on a planner for their commonage, the Department will appoint a planner.”
GLAS will be a five-year scheme with a maximum payment of €5,000 per annum, with the potential to qualify for a top-up payment of up to €2,000 per annum.
Funding in 2015 provides for the opening of the scheme to some 30,000 entrants and for part-year payments to be made. When fully open, the scheme will support up to 50,000 farmers and require funding of €250 million per year.
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