Leaders of farm organisations across the country have become angered over the details of the new REAP Environmental Scheme which emerged during a meeting with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine yesterday evening.
IFA said the Scheme was “a damp squib” while pointing to the fact that just €10m, out of the €79m for new agri-environment and other farm support measures announced in the Budget, was allocated to the measure.
The organisation’s Rural Development chairman, Michael Biggins said the details “are a damp squib” and highlighted how payment rates under the Scheme are “far too low”.
“After all the hype, the Department confirmed that the budget for the new scheme for 2021 will only be €10m, out of the €79m for new agri-environment and other farm support measures announced in the Budget,” he continued.
“Of this €79m, €56m was EU funding and €23m from the carbon tax.
“We know that €10m of the €79m has gone for the Straw Incorporation Measure.
“The Minister needs to clarify where the rest of the money has gone.”
Mr Biggins went on to say there was “real concern” among farmers about the Government’s commitment to €1.5b from the carbon tax being allocated to a REPS 2 type scheme over the next 10 years.
“The real concern for farmers is what this means for the Programme for Government commitment that €1.5bn from the carbon tax would be committed for a ‘REPS 2’ type scheme over the next ten years,” he continued.
“The clear commitment is that this money is to be on top of CAP Pillar II funds; this must be honoured in full.
“Also under the Scheme, payment rates are far too low and the Minister has conceded that there will be significant participation costs for farmers.
“Applications are limited to ten per planner which is totally unacceptable.
“Planners should not have to choose which ten farmers are put forward for the scheme.
“Overall, it’s a major disappointment.”
IFA Hill Committee chairman Flor McCarthy highlighted how it was “an absolute disgrace” that commonage lands and lands containing heather were excluded from the Scheme.
“The exclusion of all land featuring heather fundamentally excludes the majority of designated lands, which is totally unacceptable to IFA,” he added.
“All hills, both commonage and privately owned land, should be provided for in the scheme and designated lands must be given priority access to the scheme.”