Speaking after the IFA Farming and Climate Summit in Thomond Park earlier this week, IFA Rural Development Chairman Michael Biggins said it’s positive that Minister McConalogue and his Department are exploring all possible options to support the 46,000 farmers who applied for ACRES late last year.
“We’ve known for some time now that the Department is looking into some form of ‘gap’ payment for those who have applied for Tranche 1, but are not successful. However, as to what that looks like; how much it will be; or how it will be administered; that has yet to be decided,” he said.
“Farmers cannot be left in limbo wondering if they will receive a payment at the end of the year. Agri-environment scheme payments make up a substantial part of family farm income each year, particularly for low-income drystock farmers,” he said.
“We’ve raised and highlighted the issue with the Department for some time, and while it’s welcome that all options are being explored, farmers need greater clarity, and quickly, so they can plan for the months ahead. Whatever form of ‘gap’ support materialises must be simply administered and tangible, not purely token support and a box-ticking exercise,” he said.
“Every farmer who has made a valid ACRES application in Tranche 1 must receive a payment in 2023, whether that’s a Tranche 1 ACRES payment or a similar-sized ‘gap’/upfront Tranche 2 payment, similar to the way REPS payments were in the past. With all the pressure on the sector to meet its climate ambitions, it’s important that farmers on the ground do not lose out,” he concluded.