No details on 'new REPS' for another month
Final details of the new agri-environment package to replace REPS will not be known until the end of February at the earliest.
A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture said that although the new plan had been approved by the EU Rural Development Management Committee, final clearance by the Commission will not be forthcoming for another month.
"Until we get final approval from the Commission, no details of the new plan will be available," the Department spokesperson said.
However, the IFA and ICSA have urged the Department to enter discussions with farmer representatives to finalise details of the package.
As farmers interested in joining the scheme must confirm this on their Single Farm Payment (SFP) applications, farmer groups argue that information on the package will have to be available well ahead of the May 15 deadline date for SFP applications.
"How can you apply for something when you don't know anything about it?" a leading IFA official asked.
Tom Turley of the IFA called on Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith to set discussions in motion on the details of the new scheme so that a workable and significant agri-environmental programme can be put in place.