"Upfront Payments for... Essentially a Box Ticking Exercise" - Ming Flanagan Slams GLAS Scheme

MEP Luke Ming 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.

Flanagan said 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,” he said.

Flanagan said that he has heard 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 he described as “essentially a box ticking exercise”.

He said 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.

Furthermore, Flanagan said 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,” he said.

Flanagan called on the Minister to address these matters as a matter of urgency. 

Article by The Irish Independent