Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Questions (589)

Charlie McConalogue


589. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties that proposed qualification criteria for the new GLAS will have for farmers with commonage land; if he will amend the proposed criteria in order to ensure that farmers with commonage land will qualify for GLAS without the need for all farmers with the right to commonage having to sign up for the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22311/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The provisions in relation to commonage in the proposed new GLAS scheme are designed to encourage those grazing it to work together in the best interests of all concerned, and to ensure that the commonage is managed in a manner which protects the environment. I am aware that in some cases it would be a challenge to get all shareholders to sign-up to any agreement, but I should point out that this has never been proposed as a requirement under GLAS; while 100% participation would be the best possible outcome, the target is set at 80% participation to secure Tier One access to the new Scheme.

Since I first proposed this, I have further reviewed the position and I announced on 13 May 2014 that I was building in a second-tier access to the Scheme where a minimum of just 50% participation could be secured. I believe this will significantly ease the burden of securing agreements, while at the same time providing a critical mass for management of the commonage which can be expanded upon in future years.