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06/19/2014 12:00:00 AM


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McConalogue, Charlie

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Agriculture Scheme Eligibility

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Eligibility for

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Agriculture Schemes

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Agriculture Scheme Eligibility

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Agriculture Schemes\Eligibility for

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Senator


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Deputy Charlie McConalogue

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Snippet Contents:

Unfortunately, the reply does not address a couple of the key concerns I put to the Minister, which farmers raised this morning. They felt they had to come to Dublin to protest. I outlined that the average beef farm income is €15,000 and the average sheep farm income is €11,000. By and large, farmers with commonage attached have small incomes. The key point I made to the Minister is that under REPS and previous schemes, which were much more financially viable for farmers, only 24% of farms with commonage signed up to them. What is required for farms with commonage is that at least half of the farmers involved in the commonage must sign up to GLAS at the same time in order for anyone to be able to participate. Given the history of such schemes that simply will not be possible. The Minister is blocking one tenth of farms across the country from participating in GLAS. A higher proportion of farms in Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Connemara and Kerry in particular will be affected. The farmers will be blocked from participation in a valuable scheme. Unless the Department changes its approach it will defeat the entire purpose behind the scheme. Under previous environmental schemes an individual farmer could apply and did not need 50% of farmers using commonage land to sign up at the same time. Individual farmers could introduce environmentally friendly measures on their farms and on the commonage areas. What will be achieved is blocking any farm with commonage attached from participation in the scheme. Even farms that no longer use the commonage will not be able to apply because they cannot meet the terms of the scheme. The Minister must rethink the scheme and listen to what was said by the farmers who came to Dublin to make their views heard and to get the attention of the Ministers in the Department. Unless the Department completely changes its approach it will cut out one tenth of the lowest income farm families in the country from a very important scheme, which would be instrumental in allowing them to continue in farming.