The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has informed farm advisors that the completion date for establishing winter bird food crop has been extended under the Agri Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES).

The establishment deadline has been moved back to May 31, having originally been May 15.

The extension has been granted “as a result of prolonged adverse weather conditions”, the department said.

The extended deadline will only apply to this year. In subsequent years, the deadline of May 15, will continue to apply.

The establishment of winter bird food crop comprises two measures under ACRES, namely winter bird food plot, and winter bird food strip.

The winter bird food plot measure is paid on up to 3ha, at a rate of €1,000/ha/yr. The plot must be at least 0.25ha in order to receive payment.

The winter bird food strip measure has two different rates, depending on whether the width of the strip is 6m or 8m.

The rate itself is paid on metres in length, up to 2,500m (strips must be a minimum lenght of 10m).

For strips 6m in width, the rate is €0.98/yr for each metre in length, and for strips 8m in width the rate is €1.31/yr for each metre in length.

A number of other ACRES measures have closing dates approaching in the coming days and weeks.

These are as follows:

  • Barn owl next box: July 31, 2023;
  • Brassica fodder stubble: July 31 of each year;
  • Grass margins – grassland: May 15, 2023;
  • Riparian buffer strip – grassland: May 15, 2023;
  • Riparian buffer zone – grassland: May 15, 2023;
  • Ryegrass seed – set as winter food for birds: June 1, each year.

Commonages under ACRES

In other ACRES-related news, the Rural Independents group of TDs has raised concerns over rules relating to turf cutting on commonage land under the scheme.

The group recently called on Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue to clarify these rules.

The Rural Independents said that rules for receiving payment on commonage land are “unreasonable and will penalise farmers for cutting turf or not having the correct stocking rates”.

One of its members, Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath, said the rules are a “backdoor method” to further reduce turf cutting and to deny farmers “the payments they deserve”.