July 22nd 2014
ICSA suckler chairman Dermot Kelleher says that participation in REPS has left many farmers at a disadvantage since the closure of the scheme. Apart from the financial loss, former participants in REPS have been further hit with the development of rules on land eligibility under the Single Farm Payment scheme.
“Farmers who were in REPS applied good environmental practices on their farms and maintained biodiversity, as required by the scheme,” said Mr. Kelleher. “For instance, they maintained habitats which are now ineligible or partially ineligible for the Single Farm Payment. These farmers are now facing fines for protecting and preserving what they would once have been entitled to a payment for.”
“If the REPS scheme had never been introduced, farmers might have reclaimed this land, but as it stands, if they were REPS-compliant, now their land is ineligible for the Single Farm Payment.”
The REPS (Rural Environment Protection Scheme) was introduced in 1994 and closed to new applicants in 2009, with final payments under the scheme due in 2014.