Thursday, 19 January 2023
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
394. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the provisions that have been made for over subscription to the new agri-climate rural environment scheme; the provisions that have been put in place by Government to cover the shortfall in payments and make sure all those who applied for the green scheme are retained and paid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2662/23]
395. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when applicants to the agri-climate rural environment scheme will be notified if they are accepted in the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2663/23]
396. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the plans that have been put in place for applicants to the agri-climate rural environment scheme in County Wexford who may be deemed unsuccessful in their applications; if applicants will be excluded until 2024; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2664/23]
397. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he accepts the fact that farmers need to know without delay if they are to set aside the lands that have been identified for the agri-climate rural environment scheme in 2023; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2665/23]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 393 to 397, inclusive, together.
The Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES) is the agri-environment climate measure in Ireland’s CAP Strategic Plan 2023 – 2027. It is a voluntary scheme whereby farmers, when approved into the Scheme, will undertake certain environmental actions on their land for at least five years.
There are two approaches available to farmers under ACRES, namely the ACRES General approach and the ACRES Co-operation approach depending on the location of their holding.
The Government has committed €1.5 billion to ACRES over its duration with the aim of facilitating the participation of 50,000 farmers. This is a significant number so the intake into the scheme is being phased, with at least two tranches. Tranche 1 of ACRES opened for applications on Monday 17th October 2022 and closed Wednesday 7th December 2022 . Phasing the intake into the Scheme helps to spread the workload on advisors. Intake into the Green Low Carbon Agri-environment Scheme (GLAS), the predecessor to ACRES, was also on a tranche basis for the same reason.
Applications for Tranche 1 are closed, however, it is anticipated that ACRES Tranche 2 will open for applications in Quarter 4 of 2023.
The scheme received 46,000 applicants and approximately 1,450 of these are applicants from County Wexford. I am delighted to see such a strong response to ACRES. This shows clearly how engaged and ambitious our farm families are for embracing the climate and biodiversity challenge. ACRES has proven to be a strong and farmer-friendly scheme which has caught the imagination of the farming public.
All applications will be validated against the eligibility criteria stated within the terms and conditions and scheme specifications over the coming weeks. All validated applications will then be entered into the ranking and selection process. Following this all applicants will be notified if their applications have been successful or unsuccessful. It is expected that notifications will issue to applicants in February 2023. I am reviewing the matter regarding the number of applications to be approved.