The Department of Agriculture announced on Tuesday 21 June that the new agri-environment scheme in the next CAP will be called the Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES), the successor to GLAS.
Some €1.5bn has been allocated to ACRES and it will target 50,000 farm families.
The Department has published a number of responses to some frequently asked questions in relation to the scheme, with further details available below.
What are the payment levels?
How will ACRES deal with oversubscription?
What environmental challenges will be addressed?
Why are the rates not as attractive as REPS where participants got €10,000 euro each year?
REPS was a whole farm scheme with the entire holding being subject to the Scheme conditions. The REPS payment was meant to compensate farmers for income foregone for farming their entire holding in an environmentally beneficial manner. The average annual payments in each of the REPS schemes ranged from €7,550 to €8,200. A small number of participants received payment in excess of €10,000 per annum.
What is the difference between the general approach and co-operation approach?
Do I have a choice of ACRES general or ACRES co-operation? Can I transfer between approaches?
How long will the contract be for?
How many participants are in each approach? How is it split?
Will all applicants be accepted into the scheme at the same time?
In the co-operation approach, what are non-productive investments? What will I have to do?
Examples include, nest protection, dry stone wall maintenance, pond creation, winterage practices, drinking point provision, water retention measures.
They will be determined by the co-operation project teams in consultation with relevant stakeholders to assist with the delivery of environmental outputs/improvement at local level. Farmers can apply for these investments or actions annually.
Do I need an adviser, or may I submit my own application?
As an approved FAS adviser can I prepare a plan for myself?
How do I qualify for the ACRES scheme?
To be eligible to participate, an applicant must:
Do I need a nutrient management plan like previous Agri-Environmental scheme?
It is currently proposed that it will be necessary, as a participant in ACRES.
Can I transfer from GLAS to ACRES?
Will there be priority access to ACRES available for commonage like previous Agri- Environmental scheme?
Can leased or rented land be included in the ACRES scheme?
What is the application process?
All applications for the scheme must be prepared and completed by an approved FAS advisor via agfood.ie.
What is the access agreement?
Am I committed to applying to the scheme if I agree to the access agreement?
No, you are just indicating an intention to apply to the scheme and allowing your ACRES adviser access to necessary information with the Department to complete an application.
When do I have to apply by?
It is currently proposed that advisers will be able to prepare farm sustainability plans for their clients from early August and to submit the scheme applications and the accompanying FSPs from mid October 2022 to end of November 2022.
When will I know if I am in the scheme?
What is the farm sustainability plan?
It is a combination of desk and field assessments whereby advisers assess the environmental assets/risks and conservation targets on the holding.
Is there priority access for organic farmers?
Yes, organic farmers may be eligible for tier 1 priority entry to the ACRES general approach.
Can I apply for the scheme when my herd number is in the ‘Reps of’?
Yes, it should be noted, however, that payments will not issue until you have applied to transfer the herd number to the person that is eligible to take over the herd number in line with the scheme’s terms and conditions.
Will my application depend on my 2021 or 2022 BPS application?
Are the actions the same as GLAS?
A list of the actions was provided during the CAP Information evenings held in March 2022 are available at gov.ie.
What are the Co-operation zones? How are they defined?
- High priority geographical areas which include areas dominated by semi-natural vegetation (both privately owned and in commonage), Natura 2000 lands and priority water catchments, etc.
- If you choose to drop an action throughout the duration of the scheme, you will have repay monies received to date. It may also affect your participation in the scheme.
- Training is expected to take place within your first year of participation in the scheme.
- Yes, you must attend any additional mandatory training as organised by the ACRES CP teams from time-to-time.
These areas are of high nature value, hold significant carbon stores and are home to some of the most pristine waters in the country.
What is the co-operation team?
The Local Cooperation Project (CP) team will provide expertise on, and assist with, the implementation of actions at a farm and landscape level.
Can I drop an action throughout the lifetime of the scheme?
Will I get a choice of co-operation actions I can undertake?
Decisions on bespoke actions will be taken following discussions with the CP teams, based on the Local Action Plan. Farmers that have land outside the CP Zone, may choose to carry out actions selected where appropriate from the ACRES general actions list.
When will training for ACRES participants take place?
Is there any additional training for the co-operation participants?