Fitzmaurice says new ACRE scheme is ‘anti-small farmer’

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice has criticised the new ACRE Scheme, claiming it is anti-rural Ireland and anti-small farmer.

“If you dig into the scheme and the terms and conditions you will see that a farmer on 40 to 50 acres has no chance of gaining any type of proper compensation for the work that they will be doing,” he said this week.

“Under the low input permanent pasture scheme, you have to sow extra varieties and if you don’t have extra flowers in the ten hectares then you will be back to payment of €2,000 as against €3,140 in GLAS”.

Deputy Fitzmaurice said small farmers would be left with little to no extra income.

“You are paid separately under the fencing off of watercourses in the GLAS Scheme whereas this is included in the €2,000 on the new low input permanent pasture.

“For the smaller farmers that are trying to grow or get extra money, you are not allowed to plant any trees around that 10 hectares to try and bring up your money,” he said.

Uptake of the new scheme is also an issue with planners while the Independent TD says crop failures will result in no payment.

“Minister McConalogue needs to pause this scheme immediately and change it around or he will be contributing to the demise of the farming community, especially the small farmers that a lot of these schemes should be aimed at supporting,” Fitzmaurice added.

“It is regrettable that a Minister coming from the northwest of this country cannot see the holes in the scheme that his department has drawn up. But it is no surprise to me that this scheme has been drawn up by the same people that are looking over the forestry, as well”.

The local TD questioned why an environmental scheme once again appeared to be anti-small farmer.

“This Government needs to relook at what they are doing here and make sure that it is accessible and workable for small farmers and fund it properly. Because the reality of it is that if you have 40 acres of land, or maybe 50, the most you will be able to get out of this is €2,500 to €3,000 and that will be between €1,300 and €1,800 less than what farmers received from GLAS. Is that not proof in itself of where we are now going in the agricultural sector?

“There are great people in the Department of Agriculture bringing out schemes that are very workable like BPS, but when it comes to environmental schemes, the Government seems to be continuing to put obstacles in front of farmers,” he concluded.