In a report on Department of Agriculture income and expenditure, the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee (PAC) says it is concerned over the funding mechanism for the Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES).

The committee, which focuses on ensuring public services are run efficiently and achieve value for money, has raised concerns that funding for the environmental scheme has come from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), rather than through carbon taxes, in the form of the climate action fund.

Chaired by Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley, the group has recommended that the Department provide it with a report by January 2023 detailing its intended distribution of its climate action fund allocation to ACRES over the course of the CAP 2023 to 2027, as well as the arising co-financing rate.

Programme for government

TDs and senators on the PAC have pointed out that in its engagement with the Department, it was highlighted that "the programme for government commits to a €1.5bn agri environmental fund [AgriClimate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES)], the money for which will come from carbon taxes".

They said that the coalition’s programme for government further commits to allocate, from the climate action fund, the referenced funding to "a REPS-2 programme to encourage and incentivise farmers to farm in a greener and more sustainable way".

"This funding will be additional to funding from the Common Agricultural Policy. It will include incentives to plant native forestry and to enhance and support biodiversity," the programme for government reads.


In launching ACRES, the Department says it is proposed that payments in respect of ACRES will be “co-funded by the national exchequer and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) of the European Union under Ireland’s CAP strategic plan 2023-2027”, apparently contradicting the programme for government commitment.

In its report, the PAC highlighted that an investment of €1.5bn in addition to the CAP would “represent a significant investment in agriculture and contribute positively towards meeting the State’s climate objectives”.

To address its concerns, the committee has recommended that the Department provides an update by January 2023 on its use of funding from the climate action fund and, separately, its use of this fund to finance ACRES.

‘Creative accounting’

Deputy Stanley said there “seems to have been creative accounting” when it comes to Government funding of ACRES and called on the coalition to be “honest with farmers”.

Describing increases in carbon tax revenue, he said: “If you’re taking in more carbon tax, you have to be honest with where it’s being used.”

The Sinn Féin TD said the PAC is seeking an update from the Department on the money shared to it from the climate action fund.

He said that when it comes to funding ACRES, “the carbon tax was billed as the additionality”.

“Whatever way it’s carved up, it has to be additional [to CAP funding],” he said.

Read more

Pressure on to get farmers into ACRES