EnvironmentRural Development

All Farmers Applying for Environment Scheme Must be Paid in 2023

Speaking after a meeting with the Department of Agriculture this week, IFA Rural Development Chairman Michael Biggins said all farmers who apply for the new ACEM in 2023 must be paid in the same year.

The new AECM proposes to have up to 50,000 farmers participating and it’s planned to open the scheme over at least two tranches.  Tranche 1 is scheduled to open in quarter 4 2022, with scheme participation commencing in January 2023.  Tranche 2 is to open for applications in quarter 4 2023, with scheme participation commencing in January 2024.

Michael Biggins said, ““There is a real income concern if there is a lag between GLAS and ACEM, which will be caused by the tranche approach.  Not accepting all participants into the scheme in 2023 is simply unacceptable.  GLAS/AECM payments are a critically important part of farmers’ incomes.  It is essential that all applicants under all tranches receive a payment in 2023 and the scheme cannot be limited to 50,000 participants”. 

“I am calling on the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to commit to every farmer getting an environment scheme payment for 2023.  This can be done by either paying an upfront payment in 2023 for Tranche 2 participants similar to the way REPS payments were in the past.  If that is not feasible, the 12,000 GLAS 3 participants must be rolled over for 2023.”

The AECM proposes that up to 20,000 farmers, in eight areas identified on maps released by the Department, would receive a payment of up to €10,500, with an average payment of €7,400 and would participate in the Scheme through co-operative project teams. 

The remaining farmers would participate in the general option and will receive a maximum payment of approximate €7,300, with an average payment of €5,000.

Michael Biggins said, “The payment rate of €10,500 per farmer must not be limited to 20,000 farmers in the co-operative areas”.

IFA Hill Committee Chairman Cáillin Conneely said it’s unacceptable to set a maximum payment rate of €10,500 which includes non-productive investments.   Funding for the Local Project Team involved in the running of the co-operative option part of the scheme must not come from CAP and leakage of funds must not be allowed.

Michael Biggins said that for a scheme which is due to open for application this year, there aren’t enough details available to help farmers prepare for the scheme.

“To honour the Programme for Government commitment of a REPS-type scheme, the Minister must ensure that payments of €10,500 are available to all farmers in both the general and the co-operative options, and the scheme must be open to all farmers who wish to participate,” he concluded.

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