The 13 December deadline announced for applications to the second tranche of the Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES) will be tight for advisers to submit all required documentation, according to the Agricultural Consultants’ Association (ACA).
ACA president Noel Feeney has stated that private advisers will “work around the clock” to get as many applications submitted as possible, but warned that farmers are taking a “gamble” as they are not guaranteed a place.
The deadline for advisers to submit applications for non-productive investments (NPIs) for those participating in ACRES co-operation zones is also looming on 6 December.
These investments are intended to improve the environmental condition of lands in the scheme and NPI payments will be above those issued for the results-based elements a farmer is paid for.
“The bottom line is that with only 4,000 places left, it was always going to be a tight deadline,” Feeney, who is a farm adviser in Roscommon, told the Irish Farmers Journal.
“What is making it especially tight is the deadline for NPIs and the Organic Farming Scheme coming soon too.”
Feeney said that advisers are in a “very, very busy time” to get farmers’ scheme work done and that the schemes taking up the most of their time varies depending on region.
He also reported that advisers worked long hours in the run-up to the last significant deadline in ACRES – the end of September deadline for submitting the scorecards to be used to determine results-based payments for land under the scheme.
The Roscommon planner called for additional funds to be allocated to ACRES, as with 46,000 farmers already in the scheme, tranche two may only be able to cater for another 4,000 participants.
“There really needs to be more funding announced to allow all farmers interested in the scheme in,” Feeney went on.
“There is big interest in ACRES and there could be around 60,000 to 65,000 farmers looking to enter.”
Advisers are still waiting to see a submission button to appear and allow them submit finalised applications, a spokesperson for Teagasc told the Irish Farmers Journal.
The majority of Teagasc’s courses for tranche one of the scheme have been completed and any remaining courses will be pushed back into 2024 to allow for the focus to turn to new applications until 13 December.