Speaking after it has emerged that clarification was secured last night, which removes the criteria of collective agreement to apply for the GLAS scheme, Sinn Féin MEP for Midlands North West Matt Carthy said:
“Firstly I wish to commend the thousands of farmers who campaigned so strongly on this issue. The fact that the terms of the scheme appear to now have been changed is testament to the strength of the grassroots campaign organised by farmers across the country. It also undermines the arguments of those who claimed that the scheme could not be changed at this stage.
“From the outset many farmers, supported by Sinn Féin, argued that the criteria of collective agreement for inclusion in the GLAS scheme were unworkable and discriminatory against commonage farmers.
“I welcome the fact that Department officials have finally taken these concerns on board and are now taking steps to address them.
“While the terms and details of the implications of the new arrangements require further clarification, I very much welcome the indication that the lack of a collective agreement among commonage farmers is not a prerequisite to hill farmers applying to the GLAS scheme as a move in the right direction.
“However, it does appear that a mechanism will be put in place where less than 50% of farmers on a commonage who apply individually will be referred to the Commonage Implementation Committee for consideration and implementation.
“I am calling on the Minister for Agriculture to immediately clarify the new arrangements in relation to the inclusion of hill farmers in the GLAS scheme and to make a firm commitment that commonage farmers will not be discriminated against in accessing payments under the scheme.”