Commonage Deadline Extended to June 2017

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed. Photo: Tom Burke
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed. Photo: Tom Burke

The submission date for completed Commonage Management Plans (CMPs) has been extended until June 2017, the Department of Agriculture has confirmed

The extension comes amid increasing farmer and planner frustration that the Department's online application system is not yet operational.

In answer to queries from the Farming Independent this week the Department said the online system would be "rolled out in the near future" but did not specify a date.

The seriousness of the continuing problems with the system were highlighted by the Department's decision to extend the deadline for completed CMPs by six months.

The CMPs were originally to be completed by the end of 2015, but this deadline was extended until the December this year.

This has now been pushed out to June 2017.

Last week the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, announced that the Department would accept the submission of interim CMPs by the end of October.

The Department pointed out that the submission of interim CMPs ensured that 2016 payments could be issued to all eligible GLAS participants, including those with commonage actions, at the same time later this year.

While the farm organisations welcomed the announcement of interim arrangements, the Natura and Hill Farmers Association (NHFA) said questions remained regarding the Department measures.

Clarity

"We need clarity on what these interim measures involve and specifically for farmers if their minimum stocking requirement still holds for 2016," said NHFA chair Vincent Roddy.

Meanwhile, the Department has pointed out to the Farming Independent that participation in a CMP does not safeguard against a potential Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) land eligibility or GAEC inspection finding.

"However, where farmers adhere to a CMP devised by an approved GLAS commonage advisor then commonage areas within the plan that are eligible should maintain their eligibility.

"Meanwhile non-eligible lands within that plan should be retained as such and are payable in GLAS and could improve over the term of the GLAS contract," the Department stated.