Sinn Féin spokesperson for agriculture Claire Kerrane TD has called for flexibility for applications under tranche two of the Agri Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES).

Tranche two of ACRES is now open for applications and there are 4,000 places available under the scheme as confirmed by Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue.

“He intends to allow 50,000 farmers to participate in the scheme overall. However, considering 46,000 applied to take part in ACRES tranche one earlier this year, that is a very small number of additional places.

Flagship scheme

“Given the Minister himself has described ACRES as ‘Ireland’s flagship agri-environment scheme’, it makes sense to accommodate as many farmers who are interested in taking part as possible.

“If he does not provide funding to allow for an increase in the numbers of applications accepted to the scheme, many farmers who are interested in the scheme are set to be disappointed by their exclusion from ACRES.

“As farm organisations such as the INHFA have pointed out, an additional 4,000 places falls far short of demand,” she said.

Deputy Kerrane said that if ACRES is to be a success, it is crucial that interest is harnessed where farmers are willing and able to undertake measures that support biodiversity.

“I would urge the Minister to exercise whatever flexibility he can regarding the number of places available for tranche two of ACRES,” she said.