Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Ceisteanna (475)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

475. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the GLAS scheme will be extended until a new payment is in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51386/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I want to take this opportunity to emphasise my commitment to agri-environment schemes in general which recognise the vital role farmers play in delivering public goods which will enhance Ireland’s sustainability credentials into the future.

My Department has a strong record in the delivery of agri-environmental schemes including the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS), the Agri Environment Options Scheme (AEOS) and the current Green Low Carbon Agri -Environment Scheme (GLAS). I am cognisant that GLAS, which was introduced under the Rural Development Programme for the period 2014-2020, was availed of by some 50,000 farmers, all of whom will be especially interested in the proposals for the transition period to the new CAP. I am continuing to work with the Commission and my European Ministerial colleagues to reach agreement on these important legislative proposals and provide certainty to Irish farmers.

The EU Commission is currently progressing two proposals for CAP transitional rules. Such transitional measures are normal practice between consecutive programming periods, to provide legal and financial certainty where a gap arises due to any delays in finalising a new EU Budget and CAP regulations. While the Council has accepted the need for such proposals and broadly welcomed them, discussions are ongoing.

One of the proposals, presented in the form of a draft regulation, provides the option to extend the current Rural Development Programme, in certain circumstances. It aims at providing certainty on the process around granting of support for the year 2021. Agreement on this regulation is not expected to be achieved until Summer 2020, subject to agreement on the EU budget. The transitional regulations are complex and a number of issues need to be considered in more detail, in relation to the Rural Development Programme and how the transitional regulation will work in practice.

The draft proposals provide for an additional, transitional year before starting the new CAP. Any extension of GLAS would need to take place within the framework of these measures. The proposals will be discussed by Member States over the coming months, and my officials are actively assessing their content.

However, I am favourably disposed to the GLAS scheme, and will consider the inclusion of such a measure in any transitional arrangements, subject to legislative and budgetary considerations.