Farmers can now apply to the second opening of the Department of Agriculture’s Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES), with the application deadline set for Wednesday 13 December.
The deadline gives those seeking to enter the scheme only 13 working days to work with their advisers to finalise and submit plans.
Those wishing to apply must submit an expression of interest, prepare a farm sustainability plan and submit their final application by 5.30pm on 13 December.
The €1.5bn five-year ACRES budget will allow for 50,000 farmer places, but some 46,000 farmers entered the scheme’s first tranche this year.
If more than 4,000 farmers apply for ACRES over the coming two and a half weeks, a ranking and selection process will be undertaken by the Department to determine which farmers can enter the scheme.
Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue announced the opening of ACRES tranche two on Friday, stating that some farm advisers have already began working to express farmer interest and draft farmers’ plans.
“I am pleased that the ACRES system is now open for tranche two applicants and ACRES advisers can, on behalf of their clients, formally submit applications,” Minister McConalogue announced.
“While some advisers have already submitted expressions of interest and started preparing draft farm sustainability plans, these can now be finalised and submitted with the final application, the important third and final step in this process.
“The Government has committed €1.5bn to ACRES over the duration of the scheme to facilitate the participation of 50,000 farmers.
“The funding I secured in last month’s budget facilitates the opening of tranche two of ACRES to bring the numbers in the scheme up to that level, which is also in line with Ireland’s CAP Strategic Plan 2023-2027.”
Co-operation zones investments
Farmers participating in ACRES in a co-operation zone have also been reminded that the deadline for submitting non-productive investment (NPI) annual work plan applications is set for Wednesday 6 December.
Farmers can apply for NPI funding, separate to their results-based payments, which aim to improve the environmental condition of their lands.
Minister McConalogue stated that applying for and undertaking these additional investments can allow for the results-based element of ACRES co-operation farmers’ payments to increase.
“Advisers have been able, since the end of October, to draft up the NPI annual work plans for their clients and I am now encouraging advisers to formally submit these plans in advance of the deadline,” the Minister said.
“NPIs are an invaluable way within the ACRES co-operation approach for farmers to take specific measures to manage and enhance their holdings for the benefit of the overall landscape and environment.
“While the implementation of the NPIs will, in time and collectively, benefit the environment, they also assist farmers in increasing the scores of their lands and, in turn, the level of their annual results-based payment.”