ICSA Rural Development chair Tim Farrell has said the timeframe for farmers to complete their applications for the Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES) is too short and must be extended. “Minister McConalogue has confirmed the closing date for applicants will be Monday 21 November. The scheme aims to attract 30,000 farm families into the first tranche of the scheme, but it will not be possible for that volume of applications to be prepared in such a short time,” he said.
“The application process is a time consuming one, with farmers having to engage a planner to survey their farms and devise meaningful farm sustainability plans. Given the importance of the scheme it makes very little sense to spend so little time planning the actions that farmers will have to complete over the lifetime of the next CAP. We need to get these plans right and farmers together with their planners must be given sufficient time to get them right.”
Mr Farrell said ICSA has been liaising with agri-consultants right around the country on this issue – all of whom are adamant that application window is far too narrow. “The consensus is that a revised deadline will have to be agreed, and the sooner this is done the better. We simply cannot afford to alienate farmers and planners from engaging with the scheme.”