The Department issued an update on GLAS payments last week, boasting that 96% of “eligible” farmers received an advance payment.
According to the update, 21,282 participants in GLAS I have received €75.5m, a total of €32.7m has been paid to 9,239 farmers in GLAS II and a further €35.7m has been issued to 10,320 applicants in GLAS III.
This means 40,841 participants received 2018 advance payments. This, the Department says, equates to 96% of all eligible GLAS participants.
However, where it gets confusing is when you compare the figures to 2017 payments.
In November of this year, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed broke down the 2017 GLAS payment figures.
He said there were 49,198 cases in total, 48,623 of which received advance payments and 43,763 received balancing payments.
So when the Department says 96% of all “eligible” GLAS participants received their payment for 2018, this would suggest that the total number to receive advance payments is in the region of 42,475 participants in 2018.
However, the Irish Farmers Journal understands there are over 49,000 farmers participating in GLAS in 2018. If this figure is correct, just 83% of participating farmers have received an advance payment so far.
The question is, what has happened to 6,562 participants and their advance payments for 2018? Are all these cases ineligible for payment?
We know a small number have to submit info to the Department, but not over 6,000 participants, not to mention the farmers still waiting on 2017 advance and balancing payments.
IFA rural development committee chair Joe Brady urged the Department to sort out any outstanding cases from last year and to pay all 2018 payments due without delay. “GLAS is a valuable scheme for farmers, given the difficult year they have gone through,” he said.
This week, the Department issued a warning that there are 800 outstanding nutrient management plans (NMP) to be submitted by planners for their clients. There are also just less than 200 farmers in GLAS I and II who have to complete a training course before the end of the year.
According to a Department spokesperson, if both requirements are not completed, participants face “rejection from GLAS and claw-back of all GLAS payments made to date”.