The commencement of the 2018 advance payments in respect of the Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) was announced on 14 November 2018. The first payrun saw over €116m paid to over 33,000 participants under the scheme. In the two payruns since we have p[aid an additional 6,500 participants. These payments commenced two weeks earlier than last year and saw an additional 7,000 participants paid in the initial tranche compared to last year.
The payment of €116m was also significantly higher than last year. For 2018 I secured the agreement of the EU Commission for a higher advance payment rate of 85% for 2018. These payments are a valuable support for farmers across Ireland and are a welcome boost to the wider rural economy.
The commencement of GLAS payments in November when added to the advance BPS payment and the ANC payments brought the total issued to Irish farmers since September to some €1.1 billion. This represented a significant boost to on-farm cash flows and once again sees Ireland at the forefront of EU member states in making advance payments on this scale.
All GLAS participants who have selected the Commonage action are required to have a Commonage Management Plan, or a Commonage Farm Plan where the commonage is less than 10ha. These plans must be submitted to the online system on their behalf by their adviser. Currently Commonage Management Plans have been submitted for 3,653 GLAS commonages and plans are outstanding for 291 commonages.
My Department has issued regular reminders to both shareholders and advisers emphasising the need to have this work completed so that GLAS payments can be made for the outstanding cases.
GLAS payments can only issue once all validations have been passed - even where a Commonage Management Plan has been submitted, all other scheme requirements must also be met in order for payment to be processed.
I would urge all participants with outstanding Commonage Management Plans to contact their advisers to ensure that their application can pass through the validation process. GLAS payments continue to issue on a weekly basis. I would also urge GLAS participants with any other outstanding documentation such as Rare Breed or Low Emission Slurry Spreading forms outstanding Nutrient Management Plans to ensure that these requirements are met without delay to allow for the early issue of payments. Participants who have not yet done so are also reminded of the need to complete a one day GLAS Training Course.
To date, I am pleased to say that 39,665 GLAS participants have received their 2018 advance payment which equates to 96% of eligible cases paid. This amounts to a total of just under €140m paid since the 2018 GLAS advance payments commenced on 14 November last.