Kilmore native Bréian Carroll, President of the Agricultural Consultants’ Association (ACA) this week strong criticised Minister Mary Coughlan for the requirement to have Reps plans lodged before May 15th. Speaking at an emergency National Council meeting of the association in Dublin, Mr. Carroll said, ‘Our members are completely shocked and were not consulted on how this will affect our clients.’ The Association believes that only about 2000 Reps plans will now be submitted to Dept. of Agriculture local offices by ACA members before this deadline. Bréian Carroll went on to say ‘Our members also have to submit thousands of consolidated Reps plans and single payment applications in the same period so they are under enormous pressure. Up on 10,000 farmers could join this scheme if this deadline was relaxed for a few months and this could contribute an additional €70 million to the rural economy.’ ACA is recommending to the Minister that anyone interested in joining the Reps scheme should be allowed to lodge an application of intent to join Reps 4 before May 15th 2008 and that a full application and plan could be subsequently submitted up to Sept 30th 2008. The precedent already exists as this application of intent would be similar to the Dec 31st 2006 deadline for the Farm Waste Management Scheme where full applications could be submitted up to six months thereafter. This application of intent would give ACA members adequate time to submit plans and Dept. of Agriculture officials sufficient time to process them for payment.