The amount of different problems that have surfaced during the implementation of the Glas scheme are deeply frustrating to farmers and planners alike. In the future if we are bringing out any scheme everything should be in place in terms of systems to avoid trying to sort out different problems all the way through as happened with Glas.
In recent weeks the Department have sent out texts to all farmers in Glas to send in their nutrient management plan. There have been a number of problems with this as firstly there were no guidelines written down by Teagasc as how this should be done at the start,and when that was eventually completed it was late going to the department. Then for the planners who tried to submit the plans the department was not ready. They could not get the computers to accept the plans Then with a click of their fingers the department decided that if the plans were not in, a percentage of their grant money would not be paid and that caused turmoil around the country.
Whoever made this decision has a lot to answer for as all they had to do was contact the ACA (Agricultural Consultants Association) or any of the planners and tell them that they had a month to six weeks to send the plans in. Instead, the planners were spending hours answering phones to farmers who were panicking because of that reckless text that was sent out.
The whole Glas scheme from beginning to end has been a total fiasco and the Minister has done little or nothing to sort it out. We got word at one stage that it was an IT problem yet when we talked to IT they told us it was not their problem. I do not know who is responsible for all these problems but there is someone at the top that should be answerable for what’s going on. The situation wherby there are no adjustments allowed to submitted plans is also very unfair and reckless. Adjustments were always allowed in the past This puts more pressure on farmers and planners and as far as I can see the department is trying to exclude as many farmers as they can from the scheme. What was done to farmers in this instance is totally unacceptable.