Fianna Fáil Candidate for Sligo-North Leitrim Cllr. Eamon Scanlon has called on the Agriculture Minister to address the fears of thousands of farmers who have raised concerns about their GLAS applications. The recently selected General Election candidate made the call after a sudden change in the eligibility criteria for the scheme.
Cllr. Scanlon commented, “There are a lot of concerned farmers who paid substantial sums of money to scheme planners only to find out the goalposts were moved after they had submitted their applications. Hundreds of farmers across the North West submitted plans which they were advised would qualify only to be told a few weeks later that the bar had been raised and they would fall short of the new targets.
“The new agri scheme, which aims to promote environmentally friendly farm practices, has already had to revise its own deadline due to low uptake. The Minister expected more than 30,000 applications to be approved for funding, but the latest figures available show that the numbers are falling well short of that mark. It makes absolutely no sense for the Minister to start changing the criteria and making it more difficult for the most disadvantaged farmers to apply when the target for applications will most definitely not be met.
“There is a complete vacuum of information regarding the changes and how they will affect the applications process and this is causing immense confusion among farmers in the North West. Will these farmers have a chance to amend their plans to reach the new scoring target of 16 points? Will those who applied before the bar was raised be approved in line with the criteria at the time of submission?
“Minister Coveney must now take steps to address the concerns of hundreds of farmers in the North West, and thousands across the country who are unclear about how to proceed with the application process. I am calling on him to make a statement without delay so that farmers know exactly where they stand in relation to the scheme”.