Commonage farmers ‘extremely positive’ after meeting with European Commission officials
Commonage farmers described a meeting with European Commission officials heading the European Development Programme as ‘extremely positive’ and they hope to have clarity on issues in the coming week.
A delegation of commonage farmers from western counties travelled to Brussels last week to meet with some of the senior officials dealing with the European Development Programme for Ireland.
The delegation was due to travel to Brussels last September to discuss aspects of the framework plan which concerned commonage farmers but was cancelled when it appeared the controversial collective agreement criteria for joining the GLAS schemed was to be scrapped.
However in recent weeks it was become apparent that aspects of the collective agreement will remain in place and farmers fear they will still not be able to join the scheme. A public meeting of commonage farmers is due to take place in Peacocks Hotel in Maam Cross this Thursday at 8pm with a number of MEP’s and TD’s to be in attendance to speak on the matter.
Brendan Joyce of Connemara IFA who was a member of the delegation said the meeting was very positive and the officials took a lot of interest in what they were saying.
“I would describe the meeting as extremely positive and the people we met were from high up the line regards the rural development programme. We were due to be with them for 45 minutes but it went on for over two hours and that was their decision because they were interested in getting feedback from farmers. They would prefer to meet with people working in rural areas rather than political groupings,” he said.
Mr Joyce said they expected to get clarification from the officials on questions they had regarding the Commonage Management Plan and expect to have them before the public meeting on Thursday.
The issue of the collective agreement criteria for entering GLAS is still of major concern for commonage farmers despite previously believing that it had been scrapped.
Mr Joyce explained that farmers had been under the impression that once a Commonage Management Plan was in place, farmers could apply for GLAS as individuals. However, they have now been told there must be a 50 percent agreement among farmers before the plan can be activated.
“The key planners have been telling us that this will be a disaster for commonage farmers and only a small percentage will be able to apply for year one of GLAS,” he said.