€1.5 billion carbon tax revenue to fund ‘REPS mark II’ to 2030

Some €1.5 billion in revenue from the carbon tax will be used to fund the ‘flagship environmental scheme’ over the course of the next 10 years to 2030, according to sources.

The scheme – which is being modeled after the popular Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS), and has been described as REPS Mark II – will be funded through three sources, it is understood.

They include the carbon tax revenues; exchequer funding from the state; and funding from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

It is understood that the scheme – on a pilot basis at first – will begin early enough so that farmers coming out of the Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) this year will not be left without an environmental scheme next year.

It is hoped that the new scheme will attract a similar number of farmers that were involved in the old REPS – some 70,000.

Forestry is likely to be a key feature of the scheme, it is understood.

€50 million for beef finishers

In related news, it was announced last week by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, that €50 million had been earmarked for a support scheme for beef finishers in light of Covid-19.

This scheme will be as “user-friendly as possible”, according to Minister Creed.

Speaking at a cabinet press briefing last Friday, the minister outlined key points regarding the development of the scheme, which he said will include farmer input.

We would estimate since early March there has been a double whammy in the sense of a significant price collapse but also with regards to a drop in the kill numbers.

“There are about 50,000 cattle that normally by now would have been slaughtered, so that overhang on the market, plus the price drop [and] food-services challenge, has led to a very particular impact on beef farms,” Minister Creed noted.