The upcoming application deadlines for farmers in the Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES) on December 7 and the Organic Farming Scheme (OFS) on December 9 “just aren’t working,” said the President of the Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA). warned against it.
At a meeting of the North East Galway Beef Producers Group, Noel Feeney called for an extension to the OFS program completion date, despite being granted a two-week extension to the ACRES deadline just last week.
While Mr. Feeney welcomed this development, he says, even with the extension, “it will be difficult to get at least half of our existing clients into the ACRES program” as organic plans are likely to take a back seat.
In addition, applications for the 2023 feed program must be submitted by December 5, and consultants are also dealing with large volumes of GLAS, nitrates and cross-compliance inspections.
Speaking to around 90 farmers in Williamstown on Friday night, Mr Feeney described the official ACRES and organic communications and timelines as “a disaster for farmers and advisors”.
“ACRES was supposed to launch last July, but the final farm specification didn’t arrive on our desks until October 6th, with a completion date of November 21st.
“So we’ve had farmers across the country going crazy and going to their advisors to get them into this scheme in a matter of weeks – it wasn’t possible.
“The big difference with this system is that the farms have to be visited and satellite photos taken, so now we have advisors in terrible weather conditions looking for the right actions in the right places.
“Even with the new expansion, it’s still very rushed, which is a shame because it’s a big buck.
“There is a huge interest in bio, personally I have a bunch of bio plans to do but I need to focus on ACRES for now.
“It’s a situation we never wanted to be in, I’ve never seen anything like it, and there will only be one loser here, and unfortunately that’s the farmer.”
At the event, Jack Nolan, head of DAFM’s Organics Division, confirmed that 650 applications have already been submitted for the new €256 million OFS scheme, with “thousands” expected by the closing date.
When asked by local Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice if the OFS deadline can be pushed back “to give planners breathing space to allow as many farmers as possible to get on the programs”, Mr Nolan replied:
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/schemes/looming-deadlines-for-acres-and-organics-a-disaster-warn-planners-42142351.html Threatening deadlines for ACRES and Organics “a catastrophe”, warn planners