Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has remained tight-lipped on financial details around the new pilot agri-environmental scheme, dubbed 'REPS-2'.
Minister McConalogue was pressed for further information on the scheme during his address at the Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA) AGM on Thursday.
McConalogue said work was still ongoing within the Department of Agriculture to tie down the total number of farmers that will be facilitated in the scheme and what the payment level will be.
He did commit to farmers receiving a full payment in year one.
The consultation period on the pilot has just concluded, with over 1,500 submissions received. These submissions will be assessed before the final details are unveiled.
The pilot will provide the blueprint for the successor to GLAS in the next CAP, which begins in 2023. For farmers outside the new pilot, the Minister said he was hopeful of securing funds for a further GLAS extension next year to bridge the gap.
ACA advisors were told that payments in the pilot would be linked to “defined indicators” to create a financial incentive for farmers to achieve positive results.
“The model also makes it worthwhile for participants to gain an understanding of the conditions required for the delivery of optimum biodiversity and environmental benefits,” the Minister said.
It will be a marked departure from previous schemes, where the payment received by farmers was based on the actions they completed.
Advisors present at the AGM expressed huge interest in the scheme. ACA president Tom Canning stressed that no advisor should be excluded from drawing up a farm plan for the scheme.
“I think what's crucially important in terms of the new pilot scheme is that it is a deliverable scheme, that it takes the best of previous environmental schemes and takes the actions that were successful and proved to be beneficial in the past and we build on those measures here,” Canning said.