Irish Farmers Journal weekly podcast: GLAS, Ornua and social welfare
Listen to this week's podcast if you're wondering whether to apply for GLAS, interested in sharemilking or worried about the impact of social media on teenagers' exams.

In this week's podcast, Paul Mooney asks the Irish Farmers Journal's CAP specialist Peter Young and the IFA's rural development executive secretary Gerry Gunning whether Irish farmers should take the GLAS plunge before 22 May.

Agri-business editor Eoin Lowry looks at Ornua's strong annual results, and a couple from New Zealand share their experience of sharemilking with online journalist Aisling Hussey.

From the Country Living desk, consumer editor Ciara Leahy asks Peter Young about social welfare entitlements you may have overlooked and education reporter Mary Phelan shares some tips to switch off from social media in the lead up to this summer's exams.

Listen to each item separately:

Missed the previous episodes of the podcast? Catch up below!

Episode 3 - 15 April 2015: Farm safety and crop growth update

Episode 2 - 8 April 2015: Markets for Irish beef

Episode 1 - 31 March 2015: End of milk quotas

Map: over 95% of 2017 GLAS payments issued in most counties
GLAS 2018 Advance Payments are expected to commence before the end of November, but some farmers have not been paid for last year.

Advance payments for GLAS in 2017 have been received by 99% of farmers in Carlow, Monaghan, Cavan, Limerick, Leitrim, Longford, Clare, Sligo, Offaly, Cork, Roscommon, Meath and Westmeath. In all other counties except Waterford over 95% of farmers have received advance payments.

Out of the 598 GLAS participants in Waterford, 94% have received the advance payment.

The Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed revealed the figures in response to a parliamentary question from Waterford TD Mary Butler.

In total there are 49,198 participants in GLAS 1, 2 and 3. Of those, 48,623 have received advance payments for the 2017 scheme year. There are 4,860 awaiting their balancing payments, representing 10% of those who received their advance payment.

The following infographic outlines the number of GLAS participants (cases) in each county in the first tab, how many have received advance payments in the second tab and how many have received balancing payments in the third tab.

No county has received advance payments for 100% of participants in GLAS 1 for 2017.

Under GLAS 2 all of the participants in Dublin received advance payments.

Meanwhile Monaghan, Louth and Dublin are the only three counties to date where 100% of the participants in those counties have received advance payments under GLAS 3.

Usually in cases where an advance payment has not been received, the farmer has not submitted all the relevant paperwork.

This would include a Nutrient Management Plan, a Low Emission Slurry Spreading form and completion of GLAS training.

If a balancing payments has not been received it could be a sign of an issue such as a penalty applied after inspection.

GLAS 2018 advance payments are expected to commence before the end of November. However almost 2,500 participants could see their scheme contracts terminated this year, mostly due to failure to complete Nutrient Management Plans.

Peter Varley contributed to reporting for this story.

Read more

Almost 2,500 farmers face GLAS exclusion

Timeline: key payment dates you need to know this winter

Environment: nutrient planning
Farmers should double check their N and P statements to avoid possible fines.

A fertiliser is any substance containing nitrogen (N) or phosphorus (P) used on land to help to grow crops (including grass). This definition is given in the Department of Agriculture’s explanatory handbook for cross compliance requirements.

The closed period for spreading N or P in any form (chemical fertiliser, slurry, farmyard manure) is currently in place. This restriction does not apply to potassium (K) during the closed period.

The Department recently announced that the interim N and P statements (N&P statements) for the period January to September 2018 are now available on the Department’s online system at www.agfood.ie.

The Department said these statements are particularly useful to allow farmers to plan for the remainder of the year in order to ensure compliance with the limits of the nitrates regulations.

This is particularly useful information for avoiding penalties for breaching the limits of 170kg N/ha or the limit for those who hold an approved derogation of 250kg N/ha. This statement does not account for the N and P produced by other livestock on the holding, eg sheep, horses, pigs.

GLAS deadlines

On this page, we have also outlined a number of immediate clerical deadlines that some farmers participating in GLAS need to be aware of.

In terms of physical action, farmers in GLAS III should note that the deadline for hedge laying or coppicing hedgerows is 30 November.

With on-the-spot inspections being carried out, participating farmers should double check all the requirements are in order.

To ensure you do not suffer a penalty in the scheme, check what actions you have signed up for and make sure these actions have been carried out. Record sheets also need updating.

The deadline has passed for certain actions this year (eg wildbird cover establishment, low emission slurry spreading, etc), but there are other requirements you could still rectify if they need attention.

If you chose the fencing of watercourses from bovines action, double check that this work is fully complete and the fence line is bovine-proof.

Farm finance: barriers to GLAS payments
The Department of Agriculture has outlined the main barriers to receiving GLAS payments this November and reasons why clawbacks may occur.

Advance 2018 GLAS payments (85% of total payment) are due to start hitting farmers’ bank accounts before the end of November, a Department spokesperson confirmed.

Approximately 49,200 farmers are actively participating in the environmental action-based scheme.

The scheme first opened for applications in 2015 and there have been three tranches opened altogether.

To secure payment, farmers and their advisers have to fulfil certain clerical requirements set out by the Department of Agriculture, as well as environmental actions on their farms.

If these requirements are not completed by the deadlines set out by the Department, there could be worrying consequences.

The Department of Agriculture told the Irish Farmers Journal this week: “Where cases are excluded from the scheme, any GLAS payments made to date fall to be clawed back in full, as set out in the scheme terms and conditions.”

They said, to date, the main reason for termination from the scheme has been failure to submit a nutrient management plan (NMP).

As shown in Table 1, a total of 200 farmers have been excluded from GLAS I and II for failure to submit an NMP.

If the 2,152 NMPs outstanding in GLAS III are not submitted by 31 December this year, it looks like they will face a similar fate.

Table 1 shows the main reasons why farmers’ GLAS contracts are being terminated or why payments will not issue on time.

Inspections

The Department of Agriculture has said the minimum regulatory requirements for on-the-spot checks (inspections) is 5% of the active population, which for the last round of inspections was a total of 2,554 inspections for all GLAS tranches.

A full analysis of the last round of inspections is under way at the moment, a Department spokesperson confirmed.

The Irish Farmers Journal understands GLAS inspections are currently under way, but, according to the Department, they can commence once the Basic Payment Scheme applications have been lodged.

They said the initial analysis indicates that the main non-compliances are arising in respect of the following GLAS actions:

  • Protection of watercourses from bovines.
  • Traditional dry stone wall maintenance.
  • Planting new hedgerows.
  • Low-input permanent pasture.
  • Wild bird cover.