THE Government have been accused of a ‘sleight of hand’ trick in relation to the GLAS scheme with a reduction in payments of €36 million to click-in for 2017.
Fianna Fáil Agriculture Spokesperson, Charlie McConalogue, said that he was appalled by a €36m reduction in GLAS funding in 2017, despite the massive interest in the scheme and the cashflow problems faced by farmers.
“The figures [on GLAS] released by Minister Michael Creed make for grim reading for thousands of farmers across the country who have signed up for GLAS.
“Despite committing to an annual spend of €250m per year, once 50,000 farmers had joined, only €214m has been allocated for GLAS in 2017.
“38,000 farmers have joined GLAS to date. However, the 14,000 farmers who have submitted applications under GLAS III will be very worried now that they won’t be able to access the scheme.
“I’m calling on the Minster to ensure that all farmers are facilitated into the scheme as there is sufficient funding available, considering €1.45bn has been allocated over this RDP window to 2020,” said Deputy McConalogue.
He said that only two months ago, Fianna Fáil had exposed how the current GLAS scheme is on track to leave farmers at a loss of some €378 million up until 2020 – based on average payments and budget allocations to date.
“This is an appalling situation given the severe cash flow crisis facing farmers. This money must stay with farmers. Fianna Fáil will continue to campaign strongly and hold the Government to account on this,” he said.
On the Wednesday before Christmas (Dec. 21), Agriculture Minister Michael Creed, announced the commencement of 2016 payments in the GLAS scheme [Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme].
He said that payments would commence for the first full year of the GLAS Scheme to participants in the first two tranches of GLAS. Payments representing 85% of the monies for 2016 – the first full year of the scheme – will commence and are expected to reach bank accounts in the coming days, said the Minister.
“These payments worth just under €100 million, will give a welcome boost to both the wider rural economy and to individual scheme participants which will be particularly welcome given the challenges faced by farmers in recent times”
“2016 AEOS payments amounting to more than €17 million have also been paid to over 5,200 participants who are still in that scheme.
“Further GLAS payments will continue to issue on an ongoing basis as queries are resolved and I urge participating farmers to return any outstanding documentation, including any interim Commonage Management Plans and annual Low Emission Slurry Spreading Declaration Forms as soon as possible to facilitate payment.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.