The number of plans submitted for Agri-Climate Rural Environmental Scheme (ACRES) is appraoching 20,000, according to Department of Agriculture official John Muldowney.
Speaking at the Irish Farmers Journal CAP information event in Tralee, Co Kerry, on Wednesday night, he said while there are still a small number of access agreements coming in, advisers are focusing on completing plans for existing applicants.
An extension of two weeks was granted to the original deadline of 21 November 2022 and the Department official accepted there was a tight schedule, but told the meeting this was in order to avoid any impact on payments next year.
“We’re coming close towards 20,000 farm plans in the system at the moment. Most advisers are focusing on existing people in the system and trying to get agreement on the actions they are going to take.”
That means applications have reached two-thirds of the total of 30,000 available places for the first tranche of the flagship agri-environmental scheme ahead of the new deadline of 11.59pm on 7 December 2022.
The meeting heard of one adviser in west Kerry who was stressed trying to get plans done. Because of the workload and short window in which to apply, he had to tell some of his clients that he wasn't in a position to complete their plans.
Acknowledging the pressure farm advisers are under, Muldowney said a further extension is unlikely given the need to have elements of the scheme in place ahead of the new CAP payment system, which will come into play in early 2023.
“We tried to address some of that [pressure] by extending out the deadline by two weeks and that’s provided some alleviation, but we can’t give much more [time] because to extend much longer is going to impact in terms of payments delivery next year because material from this has to go into the BISS and eco schemes. We’re on a very tight schedule at the moment," he said.