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Farmers Anticipate Partial ACRES Payments for 18,000 Amid Scheme Strain

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has confirmed that 18,000 farmers will be paid their Agri Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES) General advance payments next week.
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has confirmed that 18,000 farmers will be paid their Agri Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES) General advance payments next week.

Farmers Anticipate Partial ACRES Payments for 18,000 Amid Scheme Strain


News Summary:

  • Around 18,000 farmers are to receive partial payments under the ACRES scheme, with two-thirds under the general scheme getting an 85% advance.
  • The minister acknowledges the scheme’s complexities and strain, expressing regret over his inability to extend payments to all participants.
  • Processing challenges were cited despite the decision to accept all 46,000 applicants, ensuring inclusion but causing payment delays.

The Agriculture, Food, and Marine Minister has confirmed that approximately 18,000 farmers are set to receive their Agri Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES) general advance payments in the coming week.

Previously anticipated to begin in the week starting December 18, 2023, Minister Charlie McConalogue recently announced that his department will initiate payments for around 18,000 farmers enrolled in the general scheme.

Expressing regret for not extending this advancement to all participants, McConalogue highlighted that approximately two-thirds of farmers under the general scheme will receive an 85% advance payment.

He explained,

I wanted to be able to do it for everyone, but that is not that is not possible. The team is working to try to deliver that as quickly as possible.”

The advance payment constitutes 85% of the overall sum due on the ACRES contract for the year 2023, excluding funds earmarked for the Rare Breeds initiative.

Additionally, the department announced that the remaining 15% of the annual payment is scheduled for disbursement to farmers in May 2024.

Emphasising the procedural intricacies involved in schemes operating under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), McConalogue delineated the challenges faced when adhering to specified protocols.

He underscored that while nationally funded schemes offer more flexibility, the constraints within CAP-regulated initiatives necessitate adherence to specific processes.

During a Dáil session, Deputy Holly Cairns raised concerns regarding the overwhelming influx of applicants and the complexity of processing the new scheme within the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine (DAFM).

Acknowledging the strain faced by the system due to his decision to accommodate all 46,000 applicants, Minister McConalogue admitted that this choice placed immense pressure on the entire infrastructure, particularly the advisers.

Defending his decision, he stated,

“It was the right decision to make, and I stand by it. Had I not made that decision, there would only be 30,000 farmers in ACRES this year, not 46,000.

“Everybody who applied this year got into the scheme, participated in it and is due a payment. They will not be without a year where they are due a payment.”

Expressing regret over the delay in payments due at the end of November or in December, McConalogue voiced disappointment, both personally and on behalf of the dedicated team working on the project.

Despite their best efforts, meeting the payment deadlines posed a challenge, prompting frustration within the department.

 

 


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