What is ACRES?
€1.5 billion has been allocated to this flagship agri-environment scheme which will be the successor to the Green Low Carbon Agri-environment Scheme (GLAS).
Will the scheme be the same for everyone?
No, some farmers will participate in a general scheme, while others will take a co-operation approach.
What is the difference between them?
■ The General approach available nationally (outside of the high-priority geographical area) will offer a range of actions for individual farmers;
■ The Co-operation approach, available to farmers in defined high-priority geographical areas, will involve results-based payments, as well as bespoke farm and landscape actions.
Do I have a choice of General or Co-operation? Can I transfer between approaches?
No, eligibility for the two approaches in ACRES has been pre-determined, based on geographical location and priority environmental assets on a farm.
How will I know which approach I am eligible for?
You may only apply for the Cooperation approach if you have 3ha or more or 20pc or more of your farm g (whichever is the lower) declared as forage/habitat in the 2021 BPS within ACRES Co-operation area.
Where are the Co-operation areas?
A map is available on the Department’s website or from your advisor.
What are the Co-operation zones?
These areas are of high nature value, hold significant carbon stores and are home to some of the most pristine waters in the country.
What are the payment levels?
■ The ACRES General approach is structured as a ‘package’ and offers a maximum payment of €7,311 a year. The level of payment will be determined by the actions selected and undertaken satisfactorily.
■ The Co-operative approach is also structured as a ‘package’ and offers a maximum payment of €10,500 a year.
This is broken into results-based maximum payment of €7,000 and additional non-productive investment and landscape maximum payments of €3,500.
The level of payment will be determined by results based scorecards, non-productive investments, and landscape actions, which will be designed for your land-types and region.
Do I need an advisor, or may I submit my own application?
You must engage an approved agricultural advisor to prepare and submit the ACRES application on your behalf.
Will all applicants be accepted into the scheme at the same time?
It is proposed that the intake into the scheme will be phased, with at least two tranches, to spread the workload on advisors and enable them to allocate sufficient time for the preparation of applications.
Can leased or rented land be included in the ACRES scheme?
Yes, both leased and/ or rented land can be included in the ACRES scheme, as long as you have control of it for the duration of your contract.
When do I have to apply by?
Subject to approval by the EU, it is proposed that advisors will be able to prepare Farm Sustainability Plans (FSP) for their clients from early August and submit the scheme applications and the accompanying FSPs from mid-October to end of November 2022.
These dates may change.
When will I know if I am in the scheme or not?
All applications will be assessed and ranked in each tranche based on set selection criteria. Once this process is completed, you will be notified directly if you have been successful or not in your application.
What is the Farm Sustainability Plan?
The purpose of the FSP is to assist in locating “the right action in the right place”. It is a combination of desk and field assessments whereby advisors assess the environmental assets/risks and conservation targets on the holding.
The FSP has to accompany the application form.
Who will get priority access?
Applications will be ranked into three tiers.
To qualify for Tier 1, the applicant must commit to completing mandatory actions relevant to the Priority Environmental Assets (PEA) on their holding.
These PEAs include: private natura; commonage; geese and swans area; breeding wader mapped areas; and catchments identified as having high status water.
Registered organic farmers will also qualify for priority access under this Tier.
Farmers whose lands include a Vulnerable Water Area may apply for access to the scheme under Tier 2.
Applicants may also be considered if they are in the Native Woodland Establishment Scheme or GPC 11 — Agro-forestry or if they adopt at least one of the tree planting actions.
Or if they have a whole farm stocking rate exceeding 130kg livestock manure nitrogen/ha produced on the holding;
Or if they have more than 30ha of arable crops, they must adopt at least one of the following actions:
minimum tillage; catch crops; over-winter stubble; grass margins arable or grass margins grassland; low-input peat grassland.
Farmers in Tier 3 will be last to get access to the scheme and will undertake various actions outlined by the Department.