Minister of Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has been called on to increase the budget in the Results-based Environment Agri-Pilot (REAP) to meet the demand, ensuring all farmers who wish to participate in REAP are given the opportunity to do so.

IFA rural development chair Michael Biggins said the scheme closes to application on Monday 10 May and the scheme is already oversubscribed.

“While we know it’s a pilot project to run along with the existing schemes for 2021 and 2022, the budget of €10m per annum is totally inadequate to cater for the demand.

'A long way short'

“Of €79m allocated to agri-environment and other farm support measures in Budget 2021, €56m was EU funding and €23m from the carbon tax.

“This €23m is a long way short of what should be allocated in 2021 if the Government is to live up to their commitment to allocate €1.5bn from carbon tax to fund a REPS-2 type programme.

“A commitment was also given that this is to be in addition to CAP Pillar II funding,” he said.

Biggins said that the high level of application from farmers is no surprise given the number who exited AEOS and new entrants who had no environment scheme open to them.

“This shows that there is demand for environmental schemes among farmers,” he said.