Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Regional, Rural, Gaeltacht, and Island Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív says farmers in the AEOS 3 scheme, whose contracts are not due to end until the end of 2017, have been left with a serious dilemma.
The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, has recently closed a new round of GLAS 4 but has been unable to confirm if the scheme will remain open for farmers due to finish on the AEOS scheme at the end of next year.
Deputy Ó Cuív said: “Farmers on AEOS 3 were forced into a choice between remaining on their current scheme or leaving AOES a year early so that they can apply for GLAS 4. This would see them losing out on their payment for 2017 and is a decision that they should not be backed into making.
“I am calling on Minister Michael Creed to re-evaluate his current position and make provisions for AEOS farmers to join GLAS after their current contracts expire at the end of 2017. There is no logical reason why this could not be arranged. I am also seriously concerned about the significant underspend in GLAS that has been recorded to date.”
Deputy Ó Cuív said the target spend for the programme, which is due to run to 2020 is €1,250m, but there is already a huge underspend this year.
“Only four per cent of GLAS payments have been made for 2016. Despite this the Minister is refusing to ensure that farmers can finish the AEOS 3 Scheme and then transfer to GLAS 4.
“I am calling on Minister Creed to reverse this decision and ensure that any farmer who remains in AEOS 3, to the end of the term of that scheme, will have an opportunity to join GLAS.”