July 2nd 2014
Following a meeting with Minister Coveney today on the Rural Development Plan, ICSA has welcomed technical improvements relating to GLAS entry requirements for commonage farmers. The association also welcomed the ambition that 25-30,000 applicants will all gain admission in Year 1. However, ICSA also expressed disappointment that the overall RDP will be insufficient to deal with the structural and income difficulties in the suckler and sheep sectors.
Under the revised approach on commonages, only 50% of active shareholders will be required to sign up to a plan drafted by an appointed planner in order for them to gain access to GLAS. Compared to the original requirement of at least 80% of all shareholders having to sign up to a collective agreement, the new proposal by the Department is reflective of a much more common sense approach. Furthermore, ICSA noted the commitment from the Minister that commonage payments will be increased from €75 to €120 per hectare, and also welcomed the commitment that the GLAS+ payment will be targeted to designated land, i.e. Natura 2000 sites and NHAs. ICSA is concerned that a lack of planners could cause a potential log jam in the system, unless Teagasc are involved.
ICSA had argued strongly against any prioritisation for farmers with over 140kgN/ha, but welcomed the commitment that all farmers under 140kgN/ha will gain entry to GLAS. Moreover, they will not be required to undertake the potentially expensive extra tasks required of those over 140kgN/ha, such as spreading slurry with a trailing shoe applicator.
ICSA obtained a commitment from the Minister that there will be an ongoing review and consultation to ensure that the TAMS II fund will be fairly distributed. ICSA President Patrick Kent said, “I am determined that suckler and sheep farmers get their fair share of TAMS funding, and that other sectors do not absorb the vast majority of the proposed budget.”