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

Environment: rule changes to aid fodder production
Flexibilities have been announced for GLAS actions and fertiliser spreading dates to encourage extra fodder production.

Last week, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government announced that farmers will be allowed as an exceptional measure to spread chemical fertiliser and slurry for a fortnight longer than the deadlines set out in the European Communities (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2017 (SI No 605 of 2017).

The start of the closed period during which land-spreading of chemical fertiliser is forbidden will be pushed back from 15 September to 30 September and the closed period for slurry will not commence until 31 October instead of the normal 15 October.

The Minister emphasised that his announcement represents an extension of time only.

All land-spreading activity is conditional on weather and ground conditions being suitable as set out in the nitrates regulations and the importance of preventing agricultural runoff to water bodies is critical to the good operation of the regulations.

Livestock manures or any fertilisers may not be landspread when, for example, land is waterlogged, flooded or likely to flood, frozen or if heavy rain is forecast within 48 hours.

GLAS flexibilities

The Department told the Irish Farmers Journal this week that on an exceptional basis for 2018, applications in relation to the collection of toppings on low input permanent pasture parcels in GLAS can be submitted in writing and will be examined on a case-by-case basis. A farm visit may be required before such applications are approved.

In terms of silage cutting from these parcels, the Department says further consultations with the Commission are ongoing on this.

The Department of Agriculture is issuing text messages to 10,000 farmers this week who are at risk of exceeding the 170 or 250 kg N/ha limit this year based on their end of June stocking rate. The text messages are a warning to farmers to stay below the above levels or they are at risk of a penalty.

KT deadline gone by
Facilitators had to submit farm improvement plans by 14 August 2018 on clients' behalf for the Knowledge Transfer Programme.

Knowledge Transfer deadline gone

Farmers and facilitators in the Knowledge Transfer (KT) Programme should be aware that the new deadline for submission of data for farm improvement plans has passed. The extended deadline was last Tuesday 14 August 2018.

Each beef, sheep and dairy participant or their nominee had to complete a farm improvement plan with their approved KT facilitator. Group meetings should all be complete now.

In the case of partnerships, each partner who is an accepted participant in the programme must have completed a unique farm improvement plan in respect of their enterprise.

There still remains a number of farmers in partnerships who have not received payment since the scheme launched.

Knowledge transfer scheme for forest owners
The new scheme will involve group meetings and be open to private forestry owners to help them undertake appropriate management activities in their forests.

The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Andrew Doyle, today announced a new scheme to establish Knowledge Transfer Groups (KTGs) for forestry. The scheme comes on foot of a pilot run last year for these groups.

According to a statement issued by the Minister, these KTGS are aimed at private forest owners that require additional knowledge to help them undertake appropriate management activities in their forests.

Discussions will be facilitated by a professional forester and will incorporate both classroom-style learning, as well as practical elements. The full terms and conditions of the scheme are available on the Department’s website.

Each KTG can have a maximum of 20 participants and each participant will need to attend seven meetings or outdoor events in order to complete the programme. The KTG participant will be reimbursed €70/meeting attended.

A minimum of four meetings must be attended in order for the participant to become eligible for reimbursement of any costs. This will be verified by attendance sheets. In other words, if the participant only attended three meetings then no reimbursement is due. If he/she attends four then the individual would be due €280 (4* €70).

The maximum payment to each participant is €490. The KTG organiser must make payments that are due to participants within 20 working days from the date of receipt of the payment from the Department.