The budget for the pilot REPS scheme due to be rolled out in 2021 has not yet been decided, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has said.
A total of €79m in new funding for a range of new agri-environment initiatives was announced in Budget 2021.
Minister McConalogue told the Dáil on Tuesday night that the exact amount of the €79m to go towards the REPS pilot “is something I still have to determine”.
However, he did say that the pilot scheme will have a significant focus on biodiversity and climate change. It will also be directed at those not currently in GLAS to increase the number of farmers undertaking agri-environmental actions.
“The Department is working on the details of this pilot,” he said in response to questions from Fianna Fáil TD Éamon Ó Cuív on when the scheme will be published.
The Minister committed to having the pilot scheme in place in 2021.
“I get very worried when I hear the words ‘pilot scheme’. It seems limited, strange, complicated and worrying,” O’Cuív replied.
“Will the proposed scheme be merely a limited, complicated and convoluted pilot or will it be a general scheme for farmers who have depended on these agri-environmental schemes not only to retain their farms in a good agri-environmental condition... but also to put a crust on the table?” he asked.
McConalogue said for farmers in GLAS, the rollover would ensure they continued to receive payment, subject to agreement of the European Commission.
“Obviously, a number of farmers are outside GLAS and are not in any scheme,” he said.
“The intention is to put in place a pilot scheme for a number of those farmers, which will be an indicator in terms of what the future scheme will look like and which will help inform what the successor scheme to GLAS will be.”