Funds are believed to be found to accommodate 16,000 farmers in the oversubscribed ACRES scheme.
The scheme, hailed by government officials ahead of its launch as the new REPS, had around 46,000 farmers applying before the latest deadline. However, funding was initially only secured for 30,000 farmers in the scheme’s first tranche, with Agriculture Secretary Charlie McConalogue coming under pressure in recent weeks to secure additional funds.
It is now understood that Minister McConalogue’s oversubscription rate will be deemed deliverable subject to the additional funding required being available.
The minister is believed to be working with officials in his department to examine what options are available to ensure all successful applicants receive a payment in 2023 and that there is no gap year between the end of GLAS and the start of ACRES with the payments.
Finding funding for the additional 16,000 farmers will ensure they receive a payment next year. However, without additional funding, applicants will be given priority in the following order: 1: Farmers whose land is known to be located in a vulnerable water area; 2: Intensive farmers choosing a priority action; and 3: Farmers who participate in specific forest programs or commit to one of the tree planting campaigns.
Another way the ministry could rank applications is by applying specific selection criteria, with each farmer receiving a specific score.
Since agri-environmental programs account for a significant part of many farmers’ incomes, farm organizations are likely to put pressure on the government to accept the applications of all those who applied for the first tranche.
In addition, the Government will also be aware of calls to urgently step up climate and biodiversity action in the agricultural sector and the potential for negative publicity generated by denying farmers access to its flagship agri-environment scheme in the first year 1.5 billion euros is refused.
The Department of Agriculture initially announced that it budgeted 30,000 places for ACRES this year, with 20,000 places available in tranche two next year.
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/news/funding-may-be-found-for-16000-farmers-in-over-subscribed-acres-42235429.html Funds for 16,000 farmers can be found in oversubscribed ACRES