While welcoming the announcement that a second tranche for applicants under the GLAS scheme will open in the early Autumn, Mr. John Comer, President of ICMSA said that many of the farmers in particular dairy farmers who previously participated in REPS have simply walked away from the GLAS believing that the scheme is not practical nor suitable for their farm and farming enterprise and this should be of great concern to the Department and the EU and is an issue that needs to be addressed before the second tranche commences.
ICMSA is concerned that specific groups of farmers are effectively excluded from the scheme as the specifications options and rules simply make it impossible for them to participate in the scheme while also trying to make a living from the farm and in particular farmers who are highly stocked or farming small acreages. In many cases, such farmers are totally dependent on farming for their income and it is disappointing that they are unable to avail of the GLAS scheme for their farm.
It is absolutely essential that these farmers see merit in participation in GLAS and at present, I am very clear of the view that they do not and what is required is a clear and speedy review of the options available to such farmers and possibly small amendments to the specifications could provide an impetus for such farmers to consider GLAS with the resultant benefit for the environment. For example, Mr. Comer said, in relation to low emission slurry spreading that instead of requiring farmers to spread 100% of the slurry by low emission means, if a lower figure was selected, it would allow the farmer to spread a percentage with the traditional method in the event of ground conditions not being suitable for the heavier low emissions equipment. The 100% level is very high requirement that will deter farmers given the practical difficulties that can occur on farms on a day to day basis and some flexibility would certainly improve the situation for farmers. Small amendments such as above can have a big impact and they need to be considered.
It is essential that all groups of farmers get the opportunity to join GLAS and ICMSA believes that amendments are required to facilitate highly stocked farmers and farmers with small acreages to participate in the scheme and to receive a level of payment that makes it attractive to participate and we are calling on the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine to recognise these difficulties and make changes where required, concluded Mr. Comer.
Ends 01 May 2015.
John Comer, 087-2057846,
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office