Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath said that the Government will announce a range of new agri-environmental pilot schemes to be rolled out across 2021.

Budget 2021 documents show that the Department of Agriculture has been allocated an additional €79m to spend on agri-environmental and other farm support measures.

This money will allow for the rollout of a much-touted pilot REPS scheme, which was a headline promise for farmers in the programme for government.

A total of €1.5bn in carbon tax revenues was promised for what is to be a “flagship agri-environmental scheme”. The first €420m of this carbon tax money will be delivered in 2021.

Lower carbon solutions

The Government says this funding will contribute to the piloting of new schemes that will “offer lower carbon solutions to farmers”.

While there is no date set for the rollout of a REPS pilot scheme, its total funding looks set to be anywhere between €20m and €79m.

A rollover of the GLAS scheme has been secured for 36,000 farmers due to exit the scheme at the end of this year.

It is intended that the REPS pilot will only be open to farmers who are not participating in the current GLAS scheme in order to broaden the reach of these types of schemes.

The two main cohorts of farmers that make up that group are those whose AEOS contracts ended in 2018 and new entrants to farming since 2016, after GLAS closed to new applicants.

Some clarity on what the new-REPS could look like has also been provided.


The new funds will be used to “create an innovative, results-based pilot scheme for farmers who improve the biodiversity and carbon management of their land”.

Farmers will be required to undertake specific actions to generate these results.

The Department of Agriculture has referenced for several months that REPS would be built on those measures and practices that worked in existing schemes and Ireland is seen as a leader in the development of result-based schemes in the EU.

The pilot scheme will be modelled on best practice from those existing schemes and will be informed by experiences of those involved in implementing such schemes currently and other stakeholders.

In addition to the immediate environmental gain, the pilot scheme will also help design a new agri-environmental scheme on a national scale for the next CAP.

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