John Joyce: The ACRES options I choose and why

As the new CAP round starts in January I have researched some of the new programs.

Much of the fieldwork for this year is now done, so I can now focus on some paperwork and tidy up some loose ends.

The most interesting scheme for me is ACRES

General, which will have a maximum payment of €7,300 per year – an improvement on the €5,000 available on its predecessor GLAS.

We have been involved in environmental programs here for almost 20 years, going back to the first REPS.

It has been announced that there are funds for 30,000 participants in ACRES. I will apply as it will benefit the farms income.

Some farmers I spoke to are disappointed with the options available and say it is not suitable for their farm and have therefore chosen not to apply.

There is also an ACRES co-op that offers a top payment of €10,500, but you must be farming in certain geographic areas, mainly along the west coast.

There is only a six-week application window from early October to mid-November.

The duration of the programs is five years. There is a possibility that they are oversubscribed, in which case ranking criteria will be applied. The training must take place in the first year of participation.

An agricultural sustainability plan must be submitted with the application by a qualified planner, which increases costs.

However, since there is no sign of operating costs going down, all of these measures are very important to keep farms profitable in the global crises we find ourselves in.

I looked through the options and picked five or six choices to cover a wide range of actions.

I am disappointed with some of the measures as this program was several years in the making and in many ways mirrors the GLAS program.

I’ve mostly settled on area-based choices as I think that’s the only way to approach max pay.

Again, not all farms are suitable for these options, leaving many farmers disappointed with the scheme.

Approximately 30% of our farm is low-lying and only suitable for summer grazing and there is an extensively grazed pasture promotion of €200/ha.

Also, we have two fields with peat soils that should qualify for an action called Low-Input Peat Grassland. This is paid at varying rates based on a field grading system. It seems too complicated.

Like many farmers, I will opt for low-emission liquid manure spreading because we do it anyway and pay 1.20/m3 liquid manure for it.

The other two actions I will choose are planting a new hedge and planting trees. The hedge is paid per meter.

Some farmers will say that these measures are a waste of time and land, and they require time and capital.

But we have chosen these options in recent environmental programs and they have really enhanced the look of the farm and nature as evidenced by the animals and birds I see around the farm.

These hedges provide shelter for the animals in inclement weather and bring more benefits to the farm than some of us give them credit for.

I hope these measures will get me over the line.

John Joyce farms at Carrigahorig, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary

https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/beef/beef-advice/john-joyce-the-acres-options-im-picking-and-why-42035134.html John Joyce: The ACRES options I choose and why

Fry Electronics Team

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