An extension to the original deadline for the submission of completed scorecards for results-based actions under the Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES) is “positive” according to one farm organisation.

But the Irish Farmers’ Association has also cautioned today (Monday, July 31) that the extension to the deadline for the submission of ACRES scorecards should “not result in yet another delay” to scheme payment dates for 2023.

The new closing date for scorecard submissions will be Friday, September 29, which will give advisors an additional four weeks, compared to the original deadline of August 31.

Last week Teagasc had formally requested that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) consider extending the deadline to the end of September for ACRES scorecard completion by advisors.

Michael Biggins, chair of the IFA’s rural development committee said the extension was needed.

“The scores awarded in year one of the scheme set the baseline for farmers to improve upon for the coming years.

“Rushed jobs would only have led to shortcomings for farmers down the line,” he said.

But the IFA Rural Development Committee chair said that while it was “positive” that advisors had another four weeks to submit the scorecards, it was also important that the extension does not result in a delay to the proposed scheme payment dates for 2023.

“The department has already proposed a delay in payments for vital schemes, such as Areas of Natural Constraints Scheme (ANC) by one month until October 17, and Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS) and Complementary Redistributive Income Support for Sustainability (CRISS) by a week until October 24.

“These delays are likely to cause farmers short-term cashflow issues; any more delays cannot be tolerated,” Biggins added.

He said that environment scheme payments make up a significant portion of family farm income each year.

“With farmers having already paid for ACRES plans to be completed, as well as additional charges for scoring, it is vital that these monies are received by farmers as soon as possible,” Biggins said.