The Minister for Agriculture has announced that the second tranche of GLAS will open in the Autumn. Places for 10,000 farmers will be made available with start dates of Jan 1st 2016.
He has also allowed extra time for the completion of Commonage Management Plans for first tranche applicants. The closing date for this task has now been extended to August 31st instead of the previously announced date of July 3rd. This is only reflecting the common sense argument that we in yourcommonage.ie and others have been expressing over the past month.
The later date will have no impact on the anticipated start date of Oct 1st for first tranche applicants. Although it is still necessary for farmers to apply for GLAS before May 22nd to make the cut for the first tranche. Applying in the first round offers a part payment for 2015 (which should cover most if not all of the initial transaction costs) and a 63 month contract as opposed to the 60 month contract available to those who join in the second tranche. The part payment for 2015 not only adds extra value to the GLAS contract but the earlier payment also offers cash flow benefits in a situation where a large part of the costs are front loaded, this could be of value on farms that are not in an AEOS contract. That said; the second round will be of particular interest to those farmers who may have to split parcels on their BPS applications in order to maximise their GLAS payment. New applicants and those who have recently acquired extra land would also benefit.
The short gap between the first and second tranche will have implications for those who have decided to sit out the first tranche while GLAS and the Commonage Management Plan system bed in. While it remains to be seen how many farmers will be accepted in the first round, the filling of 10,000 additional places before years end means that commonage farmers will have to reassess their own position. A repeat of what we have seen in tranche 1 with most of the places going to tier 3 applicants would be a disaster for hill farming.
Farmers should not delay seeking the services of a commonage advisor. Even if you are going to wait until the second tranche, get involved early, have your say from the start, most importantly do not wait till GLAS 2 opens for business. It is probable that the Dept. of Agriculture will insist on CMP's for the second tranche being submitted before the end of the year. For this reason, even a September start for GLAS 2 would in all likelihood only give 3-3.5 months for the completion of commonage plans. Time will be short and for those who leave it too late there is no guarantee that the CMP will be ready in time. Shortening days and inclement weather will slow the production of Commonage plans as the Autumn progresses. Remember also that Commonage Advisors will still face a mammoth task while also being engaged in producing new GLAS applications along with Nutrient Management Plans for first tranche applicants. They will be busy.
Begin the process now, seek out a commonage planner, one with experience and a track record. Remember you can have one planner advise you on farm level issues while dealing with a different person on commonage issues, in fact for most people this will be the norm.
For farmers on commonages where an advisor will be appointed in the coming weeks, you will soon receive a letter from the Dept. of Agriculture informing you of the approved advisor for your hill. Even if you are not a first tranche applicant, engage with the planner early, contribute to the process from the beginning and have your say on the future management of the commonage.
For more information on the commonage management planning process call