The Government’s new Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES) will be challenging for many farmers to even get access to if they are not in a tier one priority area for the scheme, according to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Association (ICSA).

Farmers will be eligible for tier one if they have natura or commonage land, have the presence of species such as geese and swans/breeding waders on their land or have an organic system.

The ICSA has said it is very frustrated that the scheme will not be open to new entrants or young farmers who did not apply for Basic Payment Scheme in 2021, unless they are taking over an existing herd number.


ICSA rural development chair Tim Farrell has challenged Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to demonstrate how the ACRES scheme will bring any worthwhile benefits to active, commercial farmers.

“In particular, I am openly saying that there will be very few farmers in the general scheme who will get to the maximum €7,300.

“I don’t know if the minister realises this but when you look at the proposals, this scheme will struggle to deliver even €5,000 to medium scale, commercial farmers - and that’s before costs.”


Farrell was speaking after a meeting with Department officials on the new ACRES scheme. He said he was extremely disappointed and frustrated that the scheme has not been significantly enhanced compared to GLAS.

“The Department are living in a different world bringing forward a scheme that is less valuable than REPS, AEOS, and GLAS in real terms at a time when the EU and the Government claim that the environment is the be all and end all of agricultural policy.”

He said for farmers in the general scheme, the main options are low-input grassland (results-based, payment ranging from €250-€400/ha) to a maximum 10ha, and extensively grazed pasture (€200/ha) to a maximum 10ha.

This, he said, means that a farmer would have to allocate up to 50ac to farming in a very extensive manner, and at the end, would likely achieve a payment of little over €5,000.

“The majority of farmers will not be able to sacrifice 50 acres so many will achieve closer to €3,000,” he said.

Farrell added that farmers will also have to factor in the cost of a planner, which will be a significant up-front fee and subsequent payments thereafter.

“The minister is burying his head in the sand if he thinks this is attractive in the current inflationary environment for farmers,” he said.

Read more

Planning system for ACRES to open in August

New entrants potentially excluded from ACRES