The Funds Must Get To The Farmer
MEP Flanagan is calling for review of the implementation of the GLAS scheme, with a particular emphasis on the unfolding situation regarding farmers on Commonage lands.
Specific areas of concern are,
- Reports that farmers being asked for upfront payments from both Teagasc and private planners in order to have their “interim Commonage Management Plan” submitted, which is essentially a box ticking exercise,
- Farmers were of the impression that their Teagasc planner would be completing their commonage plan. They are now finding that the plan will be done by an outside contractor on a short term contract that will leave them with no support and back up should problems arise.
- When farmers contact the department requesting to change their planner, as many now wish to have a private planner complete their plan to have some continuity and support, they are refused this.
- A deliberate policy of delay and procrastination culminating in the usual tactic of an 11th hour rush to sign documentation without proper information being made available and explanation given.
- For commonage to be a “priority asset” and be paid for in GLAS 3 the farmer had to have had the commonage in his 2014 BPS application. This appears to be a discrimination against commonage farmers, as for other land types a leasing agreement beginning at the start of the five year program is sufficient to be eligible for payment.
Concluding MEP Flanagan called on the Minister to address these matters as a matter of urgency. These issues matter greatly to Ireland in the context of defending our CAP budget.
The CAP budget which account for approximately 38% of all EU expenditure comes under particular scrutiny and quite an amount of criticism from other sectors. We have to be able to defend our actions and programs and demonstrate best practice and value for money
In the implementation of GLAS, some of the practices being employed lack transparency and fairness, in addition the percentage of the fund being swallowed up by administration appear excessive resulting in much less support for the intended recipients. This is far from the ideals of the Rural Development Plan which has at its core encouraging environmentally sustainable farming practices while maintaining rural populations.