Deputy Charlie McConalogue has told the Dáil that a significant proportion of Donegal farmers will find themselves unable to participate in the new GLAS scheme as a result of the excess of red tape and rules brought in under the new programme.
Deputy McConalogue said in order for any one farmer to qualify for GLAS, at least half of all farmers with access to the same commonage lands will also have to join.
This is totally impractical and will mean that in reality most farms with commonage land will be unable to participate in the new scheme.
The new regulations will also prevent many farmers that have commonage rights which they no longer use from applying to join the scheme for the part of their farm which is actively worked.
“There are a total of 14,929 farms in Ireland which include commonage land. This amounts to 11% of all farms. Previous environmental schemes saw 3,610 farms participating in environmental schemes such as Reps and AEOS, that’s only 24% of the total. Based on these numbers, it looks highly unlikely that commonage farmers will be able to achieve the 50% target set to qualify for this new scheme.”
Many family farms are struggling to remain viable in the face of rising operational costs, funding cuts and falling beef and sheep prices.
The average income for a sheep farm last year was €11,160, and for cattle farms it stood at €15,595, well below the average industrial wage. Environmental schemes which require farmers to carry out environmentally friendly works in return for a payment can be crucial to keeping many farm families in business.
“It is absolutely essential that Minister Coveney listens to farmers’ genuine concerns and amends the terms of the new scheme so as to not exclude these farm families,” he added.Tags: