Written answers

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

GLAS Scheme Eligibility

Photo of Pearse DohertyPearse Doherty (Donegal South West, Sinn Fein)
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96. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will reconsider the requirement that 50% of farmers on a commonage must agree to sign up to a management plan to participate in the GLAS scheme; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that this requirement is posing an unnecessary hurdle for farmers, preventing many from joining the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46606/14]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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I am aware that some commonage farmers have concerns regarding the proposed implementation of commonage management plans in the Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS). In response to the reservations expressed by farmers representatives on this particular point, I revised the minimum participation rate downwards from 80% to 50%. I think it is particularly important to point out that the 50% requirement will be based on active farmers only i.e. those actually grazing the commonage. To give an example, if there are 20 shareholders on a commonage, and 15 are claiming shares under the Single Payment Scheme, but only 10 of those are actively grazing the land at present, the 50% requirement to trigger priority access to GLAS is just 5 farmers. I believe that 50% participation is the minimum required to achieve the best agri-environmental results for the commonages. I also believe that it represents an achievable target but again, in response to concerns raised by farmers representatives, where real difficulties are encountered, I have already said that the farmers who are having a difficulty in reaching the 50% can approach the Commonage Implementation Committee for advice and assistance.

I met this week with a number of farmers who expressed concerns regarding the commonage management plans.  While I have addressed certain elements of these concerns, I am reviewing their submission in the context of the threshold for environmental action which must be demonstrated in order to receive GLAS approval at EU level.


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