An independent TD has called on the government to fulfil a Programme for Government commitment to introduce a new agri-environment scheme for farmers and to review the proposed Results-based Environment-Agri pilot Project – REAP – scheme.

Galway East TD Sean Canney sad: “A new pilot scheme has been developed by the Department of Agriculture with no consultation with farm organisations.

“The fund being put in place is far short of what was promised. There is only €10 million available this year despite a commitment and expectation of €150 million per annum.

“The new pilot scheme is very limited and the amount of return to farmers is very little. This will create a lot of work for very little gain for farmers. The threshold is too low as the maximum grant is €1,200. This money will be eroded in costs to plan the scheme and invest in materials,” the deputy added.

Reaction to proposed scheme

Many farm organisations have been criticial of the proposed REAP scheme, the details of which were revealed at a meeting with department officials last week.

The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) has described it as a “huge disappointment” while the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) said it was “shocked” by the move to allow derogation farmers to take part.

The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) has said the move to exclude commonage and land containing heather “confirmed its worst fears”.

Changes to REAP needed

Deputy Sean Canney

Deputy Sean Canney said he is calling on the government and the agriculture minister to revisit the pilot.

He said the government must make changes to ensure that farmers are “compensated properly and that the scheme puts money into the pockets of farmers. As we all know, when farmers get money they will spend it in the local economy”.

“Farmers want a simple, manageable, meaningful, effective scheme. At the end of the day, expectations were raised by the government and now they must deliver on this commitment,” deputy Canney concluded.