The payment rates under the new REPS scheme, Results-based Environment Agriculture Pilot (REAP), are far too low and the scheme is a major disappointment, the IFA has said.
IFA rural development chair Michael Biggins said the details of the scheme are a damp squib.
Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has also conceded that there will be significant participation costs for farmers, the IFA said.
“Applications are limited to 10 per planner, which is totally unacceptable,” Biggins said.
“Planners should not have to choose which 10 farmers are put forward for the scheme. Overall, it’s a major disappointment,” he said.
After all the hype, the Department confirmed that the budget for the new 2021 scheme will only be €10m, the IFA said, out of the €79m for new agri-environment and other farm support measures announced in the Budget.
Of this €79m, €56m was EU funding and €23m came from the carbon tax.
“We know that €10m of the €79m has gone for the straw incorporation measure. The Minister needs to clarify where the rest of the money has gone,” Biggins said.
“The real concern for farmers is what this means for the programme for government commitment that €1.5bn from the carbon tax would be committed for a ‘REPS 2’ type scheme over the next 10 years.
"The clear commitment is that this money is to be on top of CAP Pillar II funds. This must be honoured in full,” he said.
IFA hill committee chair Flor McCarthy said it is an absolute disgrace that commonage lands and lands containing heather are excluded from the pilot programme.
“The exclusion of all land featuring heather fundamentally excludes the majority of designated lands, which is totally unacceptable to the IFA.
“All hills, both commonage and privately owned land, should be provided for in the scheme and designated lands must be given priority access to the scheme,” he said.