The new Acres scheme has been described as “far from a new Reps” and is “designed to discourage people from farming”.
IFA Rural Development Chairman Michael Biggins said unless the budget for Acres is improved and more flexibilities are provided for actions within the scheme, it has little in common with Reps.
“As it’s currently proposed, Acres is restrictive and complicated,” he said. “It will inflict more compliance costs on farmers, resulting in less income. The scheme is designed to discourage people from farming.
"In order to achieve the average payment, farmers will have to commit more land to lower levels of production compared to previous schemes.”
He also said all farmers must be accepted into the scheme and those applying in 2023 must be paid in the same year.
“There is a real concern about income if there is a lag between Glas and Acres, which will be caused by the tranche approach. Not accepting all participants into the scheme in 2023 is totally unacceptable.”
No farmer, he said, should be left without an environment scheme payment for 2023.
This can be done by either rolling over 12,000 Glas 3 participants for 2023 or, alternatively, by paying an upfront payment in 2023 for Tranche 2 Acres participants, similar to the way Reps payments were in the past.”
It is proposed that up to 20,000 farmers in eight areas identified by the Department would receive an Acres payment of up to €10,500, with an average payment of €7,400. They will participate in the scheme through co-operative project teams. The remaining farmers would enter the general option and receive a maximum payment of approximately €7,311, with an average payment of €5,000.
He said Low Input Permanent Pasture (LIPP), an important measure for farmers in Glas, has been seriously curtailed and farmers are left with the option of a prescription-based measure with much lower payment rates or a results-based measure, which will also mean reduced payments for the measure.