GLAS scheme to be the "new REPS" for 50,000 Irish farmers
An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney have today announced details of the new rural development package.

Click here for full analysis of the Glas scheme by the Irish Farmers Journal.

A new agri environment scheme called GLAS and 60% grant aid to young farmers for farm buildings are two headline elements of the new rural development programme announced today by Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.

The new GLAS (green, low carbon agri-environment scheme) provides for a maximum payment of €5,000 for up to 50,000 farmers, and a further payment of up to €2,000 for a limited number of farmers "who take on particularly challenging actions". Farmers will also welcome the news that annual Disadvantaged Area Payments of €195m are also protected.

At a press briefing shared with An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney announced the allocation of more than €12.5 billion in Common Agricultural Policy and exchequer funding to the agriculture sector in the period to 2020.

Minister Coveney said: “In addition to the €8.5 billion in EU funding that will be paid in direct payments to farmers in the period up to 2020, I am delighted to announce that €1.9 billion in national funding will be added to the €2.2 billion EU funding already secured for expenditure on rural development."

Direct Payments

The Minister announced that he has decided that Ireland should implement the so-called ‘partial convergence’ model. Under this approach, payments will move part of the way towards a national average rather than to the uniform payment also provided for under the CAP reform agreement. By opting for this approach, he is ensuring that the direct payments system is made fairer and more equitable while at the same time ensuring that the level of redistribution of payments between farmers is not of a scale that could jeopardise the achievement of the Food Harvest 2020 objectives.

The Minister said: “During the CAP reform negotiations I argued very strongly for Member States to be given the flexibility to tailor the reform outcome to their own farming circumstances. I am delighted now to be able to take what I believe to be full advantage of this flexibility. There will be significant transfers given that all entitlements must be valued at 60% of the national average entitlement value by 2019. However, I think I have struck the right balance between making the system fairer and supporting the sustainable development of the sector.”

Young farmers

The Minister also highlighted efforts to encourage the participation of young farmers in agriculture. He has decided to use the provisions of the CAP reform agreement as follows:

• the full 2% of the national ceiling will be allocated to young farmers, providing for a 25% ‘top-up’ on direct payments on up to 50 hectares for farmers under 40 years of age (worth more than €16,000 over the period where payment is made on the maximum area for the full five years of the scheme),

These direct payments measures will be complemented by further support under the Rural Development Programme, where a separate strand of the support for on-farm capital investment will be ring-fenced for young farmers at a higher rate of aid intensity of 60%.

The Minister emphasised that the priority in deciding how the Rural Development Programme would be structured was the need to ensure an effective contribution to the achievement of the Food Harvest 2020 objectives in a way that would complement the direct payments regime. He was pleased to be able to confirm the available funding of €1.9 billion at this point, which has allowed him to give an outline of the proposed new measures to be included in the Programme. These will be discussed in further detail with the stakeholders over the coming weeks before the Programme is submitted to the Commission for approval.

The Minister referred in more detail to the main areas to be targeted (in addition to young farmers as mentioned previously):

• a substantial new agri-environment/climate scheme (GLAS), which will build on the progress made under REPS and AEOS. This will provide for a maximum payment of €5,000 for up to 50,000 farmers, and a further payment of up to €2,000 for a limited number of farmers who take on particularly challenging actions,

• continued strong support for disadvantaged areas (now Areas of Natural Constraint), to the tune of about €195 million per year,

• incentives for on-farm capital investment, including support for the expansion of the dairy sector following the abolition of milk quotas in 2015,

• a new beef data and genomics measure worth up to €52 million per year aimed at improving the genetic quality of the beef herd.

SECTORAL IMPACTS

Beef

While there will be a dividend for beef production arising from dairy expansion, the Minister said that “it is critically important to recognise the specialist beef breeding sector as the seed bed for Ireland’s high quality indigenous beef industry. Public support for this vital sector must focus on increasing the value of its contribution to the economy, but also on addressing the key vulnerability of relatively poor efficiency and profitability at farm level.” This will be achieved through a combination of building on existing supports and adopting a more strategic approach, as exemplified by the following:

• the new beef data and genomics scheme (payment of €80 per calf),

• knowledge transfer measures that will improve key skills needed at farm level,

• the GLAS environmental scheme, payments for farmers in Areas of Natural Constraint and measures to encourage collaborative farming, which will especially benefit suckler farmers,

• the targeted advisory measure on animal health and welfare, and

• beef quality schemes to assist marketing of local products through EU programmes.

Dairy

The Minister said that “with milk quotas to be abolished in 2015, significant investment will be required at farm level to manage the additional milk volumes targeted in Food Harvest 2020.” The Rural Development Programme will therefore support the sector through the following measures:

• support for capital investment for dairy equipment, including targeted support for young farmers setting up for the first time, will be a priority in the initial phase,

• knowledge transfer measures will be prioritised for dairy expanders and new entrants,

• targeted advisory service on animal health and welfare,

• support to partly offset the start up costs of approved collaborative farming arrangements.

Sheep

The Minister highlighted the following:

• the €13 million Grassland Sheep Scheme is subsumed into the baseline Single Farm Payments figure for sheep farmers,

• knowledge transfer measures will help to improve efficiency and profitability in sheep production,

• the targeted advisory measure on animal health and welfare, support for collaborative farming arrangements and lamb quality schemes,

• the new GLAS environmental scheme and payments for farmers in Areas of Natural Constraint, will be of substantial benefit to sheep farmers,

• sheep farmers in particular will benefit from the redistribution of direct payments.

Pigs and Poultry

• Capital investment support will continue to be made available under the new Programme, subject to the phasing decisions made following the forthcoming consultations with stakeholders.

Arable

• Investment support will be made available for slurry storage on cereals farms.

• A new incentivised support programme for the protein sector will be introduced.

Artisan/Food SMEs

• A new Artisan Food Cooperation Scheme, comprised of annual grant support to help artisan food producers to improve and validate production quality, and improve the awareness and marketability of local and niche category products.

Reaction

IFA President Eddie Downey said the seven-year investment, along with the CAP Pillar I Single Farm Payment, will allow agriculture to deliver jobs and export growth as part of the economic recovery and will help to meet the targets in Food Harvest 2020. On an annual basis, EU funding for the Single Farm Payment amounts to €1.2bn, and €313m for the Rural Development Programme. In addition, national funding will amount to about €270m per annum, which allows for a full drawdown of maximum funding.

Full details and analysis of the package of measures will be in this week's edition of the Irish Farmers Journal.

The farmer's daily wrap: Brexit, BEEP and €500 vet visit charge
Here is your news round-up of the five top farming stories and weather outlook for 22 February 2019.

Weather forecast

Friday is forecast to start cloudy and breezy with outbreaks of rain and drizzle. Met Éireann has said that the rain and drizzle will become confined to western and northern areas in the afternoon with good spells of sunshine developing in the south and east.

Top temperatures will range between 12-15° in fresh to strong and gusty south to southeast winds but becoming increasing windy by evening time in the southwest.

In the news

  • The Irish Farmers Journal has obtained documents which show the UK will open the floodgates to Brazilian beef in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
  • Rushes from Irish farms have been converted to biochar worth €1,750/t on world markets.
  • A veterinary practice in Donegal has an out of hours call out fee of €500 which it says is due to a shortage of vets.
  • Farmers have registered 270,000 suckler cows with the Department of Agriculture under the Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP) scheme.
  • Farm organisations have called for farm payments to be maintained at their current levels and schemes such as GLAS to be extended if the rollout of the next CAP is delayed.
  • Coming up this Friday

  • The weather for the weekend ahead.
  • The Big Dealer.
    'We're in uncharted waters' - farmers react to Brazilian beef threat
    Odile Evans reports from the Irish Farmers Journal mart demo in Roscrea, Co Tipperary, on Thursday night.

    Farmers at the Irish Farmers Journal mart demo in Roscrea, Co Tipperary, on Thursday night reacted in dismay to the news that the UK is set to open its doors to Brazilian beef.

    Tom Bryan from outside Tipperary town. \ Patrick Browne

    Tom Bryan keeps store cattle and pedigree Charolais outside Tipperary town:

    “[Brexit is] serious, even for the exports to the north. At €2.20/kg or €2.30/kg, you’re not going to make money because the cost of manure and meal and electricity has gone so high.

    “Sure meal is €230/t. It’s very hard for young farmers to stay at home - they can get a good job and a good education. I have two nephews and I don’t think they’ll take it on.”

    Martin Phelan from Camross, Co Laois. \ Patrick Browne

    Suckler and sheep farmer Martin Phelan farms in Camross, Co Laois:

    “[Suckling] all depends on what the British do over the next month. It’s hard enough to make money at the current price so we couldn’t compete with Brazilian beef.

    "I have survived the last 30 years in farming at current prices, but I don’t see how anyone could stay farming at the price that’s being paid at the moment.

    “One of the promises that the Brexiteers made during the campaign to leave the EU was that food prices would be cheaper. If the British bring in a cheap food policy for Britain, our market is gone.”

    Tony Doorley from Lacka, Carrig, Birr, Co Offaly. \ Patrick Browne

    Tony Doorley is a retired farmer in Lacka, Carrig, Birr, Co Offaly. He works with Dovea Genetics but helps his son on the 80-cow dairy farm:

    “We sell most of the bull calves at three weeks. We have the same customer for the last four or five years from the yard - they’d be beef men. Naturally prices are back, we are facing into the unknown at the moment.

    “People are living in hope. It may not be as bad as we are expecting it to be, but if it is, it would be a disaster for rural Ireland.

    "It has traditionally been a beef country. Beef is very important to the whole industry, not alone to the farmers, but to the factories and the workers and the hauliers and our own company in the AI station.

    “The English market is a natural hub for our beef and we’re just hoping against hope that there will be a deal. If they’re to bring their beef from Brazil, what is that going to do for the carbon footprint?”

    Ray Dempsey from Roscrea. \ Patrick Browne

    Ray Dempsey is a suckler-to-beef farmer and runs a mid-season ewe flock near Roscrea, Co Tipperary:

    “It would be very difficult to compete [with Brazil]. I think we are in very uncharted waters where we are at the moment. Nobody knows what Brexit is bringing, there’s a lot of scaremongering going on as well.

    “The UK is trying to put pressure on Irish beef farmers to see can they get any support there. No matter what way it goes, hard border or soft border, it’s still not going to be much good for the Irish farmer. We still need that UK market.

    "I suppose I’m around long enough to see the wheel going round. At the moment, every young farmer has to look at milk for a living if you want to be a full-time farmer.

    “It’s in everybody’s interest that we work together but the attitudes have to change on all sides. If we are to use the beef coming out of the dairy herd, there needs to be a bit more quality and a bit more genetics put into it. We can work together if the dairy farmer produces a quality calf.”

    Read more

    UK plans to open doors to Brazilian beef

    Editorial: UK threat to wipe out Irish beef in no-deal Brexit

    'Substantial amounts of money' for beef farmers in no-deal Brexit – Tánaiste

    In pictures: springtime surprises of quintuplet lambs and triplet calves
    A suckler farmer in Wexford has welcomed triplet calves to his farm while a farmer in Sligo has had quintuplet lambs. Odile Evans and David Wilson report.

    Damian Henry welcomed five new lambs to his farm in Coolaney, Sligo on 8 February. His Cheviot crossbred ewe gave birth to quintuplets which he said are all doing well. The ewe was bred to a Suffolk ram.

    The lambs are getting a bottle twice or three times a day. Damian estimates that the lightest lamb was 3.5kg while the heaviest was 5kg.

    Quintuplets born in Sligo. \ Damian Henry

    “Every year this ewe has had twins up to now, she has more than paid for herself,” Damian told the Irish Farmers Journal. “It only took her 45 minutes to lamb from the first one to the fifth.”

    Triplets

    Meanwhile triplet calves were born on Mick Doyle’s farm outside Enniscorthy, Co Wexford. Mick’s triplets (two heifers, one bull) were born on Saturday 16 February to a Simmental cross cow and a Charolais bull.

    Micheál Doyle,Siobhán Sinnott, Mike Doyle and Rory Higgan with the triplet calves born on Mike Doyle's farm in Coolharbour, Co. Wexford. \ Philip Doyle

    “The calves are doing very well with the heaviest being a bull born at around 40kg. I had been expecting twins so I had been feeding the cow that bit extra. There was no trouble with calving, the cow actually calved the first two by herself!”

    If that wasn’t enough, Mick is also in the middle of lambing with quadruplet lambs arriving in the last week to a Belclare cross ewe.

    Read more

    Surprise as triplet calves born in Cork

    Shock and excitement in Mayo as ewe gives birth to five lambs