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.


"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.

Over 100,000 Farmers apply for BPS Online



The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., today announced a significant increase in the number of farmers applying online for the 2016 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).


Minister Creed stated “My Department has put in place a range of supports in order to encourage farmers to apply online. The increase in online applicants this year to over 100,000 shows that farmers are increasingly recognising the benefits of doing so. Applying online is simple to do, and it has a range of benefits for farmers in terms of reducing application errors and facilitating the more efficient processing of payments under the BPS.”


While late applications are still being received in the Department, over 100,700 online applications were received in advance of the deadline.  In addition approximately 30,000 paper applications were received.  Under EU Regulations, Member States are required to move to 75% online application by 2017 and 100% online application by 2018.  A dedicated telephone helpdesk is also available during normal office hours to assist farmers applying on line.  The helpdesk can be contacted at 0761 064424. “I am pleased that the 2017 target has now been met a year in advance” added Minister Creed.


Minister Creed added “A further benefit available to online BPS applicants this year is the introduction of preliminary checks.  These preliminary checks will afford online applicants the opportunity to address any dual claims, over claims and overlaps identified on online applications within specified time frames without penalty.”


Minister Creed concluded “My Department will continue to work with farmers, farm bodies, and agricultural advisors to ensure that the continued roll out of online BPS application will deliver real benefits for farmers in a way that ensures that access to this vital support is not impeded.”





New IFA Presidnet Joe Healy

New IFA president vows to 'rebuild trust' in farm body

Healy secures 'protest vote' in the wake of pay controversy

Joe Healy

2Joe Healy celebrates with his wife, Margaret, and daughters Kiara (14), Anna (11) and Nicole (15) after his election as IFA president in the Castleknock Hotel, Dublin. Photo: Damien Eagers

The new president of the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) has called on all farmers to "unite" to move the farm body into a new era, after a pay controversy rocked it to its core.

Galway dairy and cattle farmer Joe Healy (49) appeared to have secured a 'protest vote' by IFA members looking for change. He said all farmers now needed to put their "shoulder to the wheel and work together".

Amid jubilant scenes, Mr Healy was elected on the first count, securing just over 50pc of the votes to deliver the top job west of the Shannon for the first time in 20 years.

"We've been through a tough period," said Mr Healy, who was viewed as an 'outsider', as he was not part of the key IFA national executive council. However, he vowed the organisation would come out of it "stronger".

The three candidates - Mr Healy along with Laois man and IFA livestock chair Henry Burns, and Kerry farmer and IFA rural development chair Flor McCarthy - all pledged changes to the organisation.

It followed revelations that former general secretary Pat Smith's pay package amounted to almost €1m over two years.

The former president Eddie Downey stepped down after controversy erupted last year.

"The first thing on the agenda and the priority always for the IFA is farm incomes and a margin there for farm families, as at the moment almost all commodities are selling below the cost of production," said Mr Healy, a former Macra na Feirme president and marts columnist with the 'Farming Independent'.

"I wouldn't underestimate the challenge that it is," said the former Athenry mart manager, whose family were on hand to mark the celebration at the count in the Castleknock Hotel in Dublin. "There is a lot of sorting out to be done within the organisation. There is a lot of credibility to be restored and trust to be rebuilt."

His 'Number Two' will be Limerick dairy farmer Richard Kennedy, who received 14,531 votes to take the deputy president post on the second count. Mr Kennedy said he felt he had to stand as the IFA was vital to "speak" for farmers.

With a plane ticket freshly booked in his name to Brussels tomorrow, Mr Healy said it was only through a "united organisation" that they would achieve a viable cost of living for farmers.

After pointing out the number of miles clocked up by his campaign team led by Ann Mitchell, Mr Healy said he believes the farmers have "spoken quite clearly" with their vote and sent out a clear message.

After a day-long count that saw over 28,000 of the 75,500 voting members cast their ballot, Mr Healy secured 14,122 votes, just over the quota of 14,047, with Mr Burns behind on 8,540 and Mr McCarthy on 5,431.




The last West of Ireland president, John Donnelly, described Mr Healy as a "very able" person for the job.

"A particularly huge challenge lies ahead with the state of farm incomes and prices on the floor," he said.

Mr Donnelly said the challenges of rebuilding the organisation was one every member must help to tackle.

Former president Mr Downey, who said he stepped down to allow the IFA to "heal", pledged to support Mr Healy.

"Everybody has to back that person and understand why they make certain decisions at certain times. If that is miscommunicated to people on the ground then you have a difficulty," he said.

Mr Downey said it was a 24-hour-a-day job and the IFA must ensure the new president's farm and business do not suffer.

He felt the issues surrounding pay were aired publicly, but said a process was under way to deal with it in a "structured manner" in-house.

PRESS RELEASE – Registered Agricultural Consultant

Press Release - Press Release - Press Release - Press Release - Press Release -

ACA launches new professional designation for all private agricultural consultants

The Agricultural Consultants Association whose members deal with more than half of all farmers in the country has launched a new professional designation for all private farm consultants. The new designation is the Registered Agricultural Consultant (RAC). Private consultants who wish to use the designation RAC will be required to engage in a demanding Continuous Professional Education programme along with observing a strict disciplinary code as well as holding professional indemnity insurance cover. It is expected that the designation will become the industry standard for all of the 400 plus private consultants currently operating in the country.

ACA president Laura Johnston has heralded the new designation as the dawn of a new era in the provision of professional farm advice, an era where farmers can rest in the certainty of a very professional and accessible service where the relationship between the farmer and the consultant is a long term one. Ms. Johnston stated that she expects that most private consultants will adopt the new designation and that in time only such private consultants will be permitted to operate and sign off on all relevant Department of Agriculture and E.U. grant and knowledge transfer programmes.


The Agricultural Consultants Association



Angela Casey, ACA Secretariat.

Tel 051 -645705 / 640397


Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney T.D. today announced that “the deadline for applications under advisor registration of Knowledge Transfer Groups would be extended until 11 September”. He added that “Department approved facilitators should register their proposed Knowledge Transfer Groups on the Department’s on-line facility for the dairy, beef and equine sectors”.

Knowledge Transfer is one of a suite of measures included under the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 and will involve the formation and administration of knowledge transfer groups across a range of sectors. Funding of €100m under the Rural Development Programme has been allocated for 27,000 farmers participating for 3 years in Knowledge Transfer Groups across the dairy, beef, equine, sheep, tillage and poultry sectors.

The measure is co-funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). The on-line registration process provides the opportunity for DAFM approved facilitators to apply to run dairy, beef and equine Knowledge Transfer Groups. Minister Coveney said that “since the registration process opened, interest levels in the Knowledge Programme has been considerable”. This he added “reflects the intent of advisors and farmers alike to improve on-farm profitability and sustainability through farmer meetings run by advisors and involving the exchange of information and best practices”.

Minister Coveney added that “facilitators and vets will also assist participating farmers in the completion of a tailored Farm Improvement Plan that will address issues such as profitability, sustainability, animal health and welfare and farm safety.” Detailed scheme conditions are available on the Department’s website at

Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme – GLAS

GLAS is the new agri-environment scheme, part of the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020. GLAS achieves the objectives of Articles 28 and 30 of the Rural Development Regulation and ties in with the green vision for Irish agriculture as contained in Food Harvest 2020 and as promoted by Bord Bia in the Origin Green campaign.

The scheme is green as it preserves our traditional hay meadows and low-input pastures; low-carbon as it retains the carbon stocks in soil through margins, habitat preservation and practices such as minimum tillage; and, agri-environment as it promotes agricultural actions, which introduce or continue to apply agricultural production methods compatible with the protection of the environment, water quality, the landscape and its features, endangered species of flora and fauna and climate change mitigation.

Knowledge Transfer (KT)

A suite of knowledge transfer measures are included in the new Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, and will consist of support for Knowledge Transfer Groups across the Beef, Sheep, Dairy, Poultry, Tillage and Equine sectors. 2015 will initially see groups being established under the Beef, Dairy and Equine sectors with Poultry, Tillage and Sheep commencing in 2016.

The scheme design has been guided by experiences from previous Dairy Advisory Schemes and Beef and Sheep Discussion Groups and following extensive consultation with a wide range of stakeholders. The scheme builds significantly on the discussion group model and is designed in such a way as to ensure the farmer and advisor engage in one to one discussion on key aspects of a farmers’ business such as profitability, environmental sustainability, breeding and herd health.

Each approved Knowledge Transfer Facilitator must prepare for and hold a minimum of 5 Knowledge Exchange meetings each year and oversee the preparation and submission of a FIP for each participating farmer. Facilitators will also be responsible for confirming the completion of scheme requirements by participating farmers. This will be completed via a dedicated online system using their existing online registration details. New facilitators will be required to register with the Department’s online system.

Participating Knowledge Transfer facilitators require a minimum of an NFQ level 8 Agriculture Science Degree, have Indemnity Insurance and must be willing to undertake Facilitator Training and related Continuous Professional Development Training as provided by the Department over the duration of the programme.


The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine announced today that interim Nitrogen and Phosphorus statements for the period January to June 2015 will be available online from this Friday 31st July to all farmers registered with

These statements, for cattle only, are of great benefit to farmers, especially those that may have increased stock numbers in the past year. It should assist farmers in deciding whether or not they need to take any action before the end of the year to stay within the limits set down in the Nitrates Regulations.

In addition to the Nitrogen and Phosphorus figures being available online, text messages are also issuing to those farmers registered for this service, who at the end of June are at or over 75 kgs of Nitrogen per hectare (approaching or likely to exceed the limit by year end). Farmers who receive this text, and who are not derogation applicants, should heed the warning and take steps, if not already in place, to reduce the nitrates loading before the end of the year. Options include exporting slurry/farmyard manure or renting additional land.

This year the Department is increasing the frequency of these interim statements by making them available bi-monthly until the end of the year. Statements for end of August and October will be available online towards the end of September and November respectively.

Farmers not already registered for can do so by logging onto and clicking the 'Register' button. To register a mobile phone number for future SMS text alerts log on to to access the sign-on form, or alternatively contact the regional office.