Planners tout for AEOS role
Farmers risk losing money in the new Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS) unless they employ agricultural advisers to help with applications, the Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA) has warned.
A weighted matrix system will be applied by the Department of Agriculture to assess applications from non-NATURA and non-commonage areas.
If the AEOS scheme is over-subscribed, this matrix will be used to determine which farmers are accepted into the new scheme.
ACA president Pat Minnock said planner input would be required to help farmers choose relevant measures.
"Even though the minister says farmers won't need planners, farmers will need help," insisted Mr Minnock.
"They will need advice on the most suitable locations, cost-effective and efficient measures to choose," he said.
There are also fears that farmers may not have sufficient technical expertise to confidently submit correct application forms.
"For example, the species-rich grassland measure requires farmers to identify five positive and five negative indicators for each land parcel," explained Mr Minnock.