Farmers want clarity on ACRES gap payments

Speaking after the IFA Farming and Climate Summit in Thomond Park last week, IFA Rural Development Chair Michael Biggins welcomed news that “all options were being explored” to support 46,000 farmers who applied for ACRES last year but called for urgent clarity for all those affected. 

  “We’ve known for some time now that the Department of Agriculture is looking into some form of ‘gap’ payment for those who have applied for Tranche 1, but are not successful. However, as to what that looks like, how much it will be, or how it will be administered, that has yet to be decided,” Mr. Biggins said.

  The Rural Development Chairperson said farmers cannot be left in limbo when it comes to payments.

  “Agri-environmental scheme payments make up a substantial part of family farm income each year, particularly for low-income drystock farmers,” he said. 

  “We’ve raised and highlighted the issue with the Department for some time, and while it’s welcome that all options are being explored, farmers need greater clarity, and quickly, so they can plan for the months ahead. Whatever form of ‘gap’ support materialises must be simply administered and tangible, not purely token support and a box-ticking exercise,” he said. 

  Mr. Biggins added that every valid applicant must receive a payment in 2023, whether as part of Tranche 1 or an advanced Tranche 2. 

  “With all the pressure on the sector to meet its climate ambitions, it’s important that farmers on the ground do not lose out,” he concluded.