The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) has called on Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue and the Government to deliver additional funding to ensure all those looking to join the Agri-Climate and Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES) can be accommodated.

INHFA vice-president John Joe Fitzgerald outlined his concerns on farmers getting access to ACRES and detailed how “the limited number of places available will lead to major disappointment for many farmers”.

There are 46,000 farmers in ACRES and based on the current budget, it’s unlikely that we will see this pass 50,000 participants, he said.

He said it is “a concern we have raised on numerous occasions while also calling for an increased budget to accommodate the estimated 70,000 farmers that we believe will join if afforded the opportunity”.

Essential

“It’s absolutely essential that the Minister goes back to the cabinet and demands that the promises made in the programme for government to support all farmers that are willing to deliver for the environment are realised through a properly funded agri-environment scheme,” he said.

Fitzgerald also reminded farmers of the training requirement attached to the scheme.

While many farmers have “already completed their ACRES training, I am encouraging any farmer that hasn’t to contact their farm adviser and prioritise this, as we understand that no payment will be made to farmers in 2024 who haven’t completed this training,” he said.