Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture Éamon Ó Cuív has condemned recent changes to the GLAS 2 Scheme, which will see payments to farmers significantly reduced. New restrictions will have a major impact on average payments, with many farmers predicting that they will only qualify for grants of around €3,000. Deputy Ó Cuív commented, “The roll out of this scheme has been extremely disappointing, with the number of applications well below the targets set out by Minister Coveney. The changes, which are being introduced as part of the second tranche of this programme will impact negatively on family farms and payments are expected to be substantially below the €5,000 average per farmer which has been budgeted for. In fact it’s thought that payments will only average around €3,000 under round 2 of the programme. “This is a major blow to farmers who rely on this payment to maintain their business. Not only will they see significant reductions in their payments, some farmers will no longer qualify for the payments as a result of the new restrictions being brought in. Farmers across the country are unhappy with the current GLAS scheme, which is evidenced in the low take up numbers. “The whole programme is in urgent need of a serious review to establish how it can be improved and made more attractive for farmers. Minister Coveney has a track record of underspending and I have serious concerns that the €1250m designated for the scheme will not be fully expended. It is essential that all funding earmarked for agriculture and rural schemes is utilised to improve the environment and provide financial assistance to hard pressed farmers”.