West Cork’s Corney Buckley said that farmers and planners are under serious pressure when it comes to getting ACRES applications in by the 21 November deadline.

“They don’t think they can cope with the time frame to get the work done. Planners are visiting farms at the moment – the weather is dreadful and the evenings are getting shorter.

“The Department will have to seriously look at extending the deadline. Can they do that?”

In response, the Department’s John Muldowney said that the closing date is approxiamately six weeks of an open period. “The system has been in place longer than that in terms of advisers getting up to speed,” he said.

“Overall, based on the numbers of active ACRES advisers that we have, we’re estimating we’ll have close to the [30,000] number in the period that we’re talking about, going on previous experience that’s there from GLAS in what throughput is possible.

“We have streamlined mapping systems that are as user friendly as possible. At the moment, planners are working extremely hard through that system and there is a high throughput.”

CAP renegotiation

Farmer Liz Keane told the meeting that she felt the CAP was negotiated during a time before the war and that tillage farmers were going to take a hit.

“I feel at this stage we need to go back to Europe to renegotiate,” she said.

The Department’s Francis Morrin said that he would be “absolutely blunt” with his response.

“There will be no renegotiation of the CAP. Since 2018 this new one has been negotiated, no way are four years of negotiations [going to] be thrown out the window.

“If something like that was to happen, no farmer here would get paid for several years to come, so it’s just not going to happen.”

David Flynn, tillage farmer

“It’s disappointing that it seems to be becoming more and more complicated. We’ve to go through more hoops and loops now to hold on to not even the same money, but less money than we used to be getting.

“There’s too many farmers in the west of Ireland where it’s the tail wagging the dog here. They have the big areas of land and they’re not really producing the big amount of food that’s required to feed the country.

“The tillage farmers down here, for example, the money that’s going to be taken off of them through no fault of their own, some of them are going to be forced out of business.”

Kevin McSweeney, dairy

“There’s a lot of learning. The active farmer is not being recognised enough in this. We’re doing a lot of work on leased land and we have to protect the single farm payment for a land owner and give it back to him in the middle of October. That doesn’t seem right.”

John Lynch, tillage

“If a fella has to let his ground for one reason or another, he has to let it. But it is the man that’s farming that ground who should actually get whatever payments or entitlements there is.

“Give him whatever money he wants for it and keep it simple. That was the one thing that I took out of the whole thing.”

Kevin O’Sullivan, dairy

“There’s a lot of change in the terminology which is confusing people. [The Department] should have kept it all the same and people would get used to it.”

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Farmers need to begin ground work now on CAP schemes – adviser