IFA National Rural Development Chair Michael Biggins has acknowledged the opening Tranche 2 of the Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES) by Minister McConalogue today, but said more is needed to get more farmers into the scheme.
“The 3-week application window is tight and will make it difficult for farmers and planners to get applications fully complete and in on time. But more importantly, it is vital that the Minister finds the necessary funding to accommodate all eligible applicants,” Michael Biggins said.
“We cannot be limited by target participants in the CAP Strategic Plan, particularly when the demand is there for more farmers to get involved. We either want to achieve our environmental targets or we don’t. The ambition of farmers needs to be matched by adequate resources,” he said.
“Many farmers put off applying for ACRES in Tranche 1 due to changes in leasing arrangements, land transfers etc. New entrants to farming were also locked out of the scheme in 2022 as they had not made a Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) application in 2021, which rendered them ineligible for Tranche 1,” he added.
“We need proactive solutions here fast. A great deal of low-income families, particularly those in vulnerable sectors, rely on agri-environment programmes to survive. At a time when there is so much focus on climate change and biodiversity, it is imperative that all farmers who apply for ACRES under Tranche 2 are included,” Michael Biggins concluded.