Advisers facing a busy period of BPS applications are now preparing to take on the added workload of applications for the new €10m agri-environmental scheme.
The results-based environment-agri pilot (REAP) opened for application on Wednesday 21 April and closes on Monday 10 May.
The dates coincide with the busiest time for advisers submitting BPS applications ahead of its 15 May deadline.
Despite some initial concerns, the Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA) whose members advise 55,000 farmers, has welcomed the pilot.
“This is an exceptionally busy period for our members and we were concerned that other important work would be undermined by the launch of REAP,” ACA president Tom Canning said.
“However, following extensive negotiations, [ACA] national council considered the Department view that in order to ensure there is a pilot project in 2021 for farmers and to ensure corresponding payments are issued at the end of the year, farms must be assessed at the optimal biodiversity/flora/ecological time in early to mid-summer.
“The selection process must take place in advance of such assessments and our members will play their part in making this work for the farmer participants.”
Advisers will be required to submit an expression of interest on behalf of farmers by the 10 May deadline with approvals issuing later in the month.
Training for advisers will then be delivered in early June before engagement with farmers begins later in the summer.
Advisers will carry out an on-farm assessment with their farmer client before submitting a payment claim to the Department.
Farmers will be required to engage an adviser to take part in the scheme.
“We know that this pilot will test the potential suitability of a national results based system, identify training needs of advisers and farmers but also assess the barriers to buy in from our farmer clients,” Canning said.
“Over the next two years of the REAP project and following our involvement, our members will work with all stakeholders and contribute our views to the Department for any future results based programmes in the next CAP in Ireland.”