With confirmation that in excess of 46,000 applications have been received for the new Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES), IFA’s Rural Development Committee Chair Michael Biggins said the Minister must find funding to include all applicants.
“At a time when we have so much emphasis on climate and biodiversity, it would be a huge own goal by the Government to exclude farmers from the scheme for 2023,” he said.
“The scheme is disappointing in many aspects and has frustrated farmers. However, most had no option but to apply for the scheme to avoid a significant cut in their incomes,” he said.
Michael Biggins said the volume of applications highlights how dependent farmers are on environmental schemes for their incomes. It also shows the commitment of farmers to improving the environmental and economic sustainability of their farming enterprises.
“However, the scheme is now oversubscribed and if the Minister doesn’t address this, thousands of farmers will suffer income losses in 2023. Planners must also be acknowledged for their efforts in getting plans drawn up and submitted for farmers during this tight timeframe,” he said.
“We warned the Minister for months that the number of applicants would well exceed the places allocated for it. It is now up to Minister McConalogue to find a solution for the estimated 15,000 farmers who, without his intervention, will find themselves without an agri environmental scheme payment in 2023 and significantly out of pocket as a result.”