Hill Farming

Farmers in ACRES Need to Know Where They Stand – IFA

IFA National Hill Farming Chair Caillin Conneely has called on the Department to ensure balancing ACRES payments are paid out to all farmers as soon as possible, and to come clean and let farmers know where they stand with regard parcel scoring and Non-Productive Investment (NPI) applications.

“Farmers in Co-Operation areas were sold a pup with ACRES. We were promised up to €10,500 each year for the five years of the scheme, but we got nothing at all in year one, and even now, haven’t a clue how much, or when we will get paid this year,” Caillin Conneely said.

“We are in the dark completely on how our lands scored and where we stand with our NPI applications. It’s just not acceptable. Farmers can’t continually be at a loss because the Department haven’t their ducks in a row,” he said.

“Applications for NPIs closed early December last year, but it’s been radio silence ever since. We are hearing it could be late Summer now before any NPI approvals start to issue, to allow farmers start the work, never mind get paid for it,” the IFA National Hill Farming Chair said.

“We need a complete rethink here. I’m calling on the Minister to ensure innovative solutions are found and whatever resources necessary is provided to speed up this process, and to allow farmers start works and get paid in good time,” he said.

“The NPI gave farmers a chance to build up payments where scoring may not have been as high as anticipated, but again we haven’t a clue where we stand here either. We have no idea how our parcels scored,” he added.

“The Department have given us the option that lands can be rescored in year 2 if desired through their BISS applications, much to ease the pressure on planners, but what I do might be very different if I know my land scored a 7 versus what I think scored a 7 but actually only scored a 2 or 3 on the Department end.”

“I simply need to know where I stand before I can make any kind of informed decision. Farmers need and deserve better clarity. We are shooting in the dark otherwise,” he said.

“This year already has been very challenging on hill farmers, with huge extra expense. Cashflow pressures are building on many farms. We need clarity and certainty where we stand so we can plan going forward,” he said.

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