It was a long and tortuous journey but GLAS has finally opened. Interest from farmers has been good and advisors are registering potential applicants. The software system is better than I had expected. The criticisms voiced by some about the system are I believe a little unfair. One flaw though, is that the text message method for authorising the production of applications does not work for herd numbers with two or more names. We have brought this to the attention of the dept of agricultures attention and we are sure it will be rectified.
The big concern though is the proposed, but as yet unpublicised closing date of April 30th. This is a very shortsighted proposal. The window for applications is far too short as it is. The late start to the scheme has been bad enough, but cutting two weeks off at the tail end is a huge mistake. If this goes ahead, applications will be rushed and farmers and advisors will be placed under intolerable pressure.
Considering that the scheme has been delayed for 4 months beyond the once hoped for November start and that the full list of advisors has not yet been published, a request for May 15th closing date is not unreasonable. I would hope that all stakeholders would resist this needless shrinking of the application period.
Minister, after the long hard road that everyone, dept staff, advisors and most of all farmers have travelled to get us to this point, give the scheme a chance, extend the closing date to May 15th.
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