New ‘REPS-like’ scheme ‘hugely important’ – Fine Gael chairperson

A senior Fine Gael politician has welcomed a new development in the government formation talks which will see the parties concerned examine the possibility of a new scheme modeled after the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS).

Martin Heydon, the chairperson of the Fine Gael parliamentary party and a TD for Kildare South, said that a new scheme of that kind would be a positive for Irish farmers.

“This is an issue that is hugely important for Fine Gael. Family farm incomes need to increase, and we also need improvements in our soil, water and air quality,” Heydon said.

I believe by ring fencing Carbon Tax funds for agriculture, in addition to new CAP payments, we can have a properly funded new REPS scheme that pays farmers for participating in a new agri-environmental scheme.

“REPS was a popular scheme for farmers in the past as it paid well to bring about many positive environmental changes on farms around the country. It was also money that was largely spent in local rural economies,” the TD noted.

Heydon highlighted: “We know farmers value their land and as its custodians are best placed to implement measures to protect our farms and environment for the future, but only if they are paid appropriately to do so.

“I hope these proposals are adopted by the next Government,” concluded the TD, who farms himself.

Meanwhile, sources inside Fianna Fáil have told AgriLand that that party would also welcome a scheme of this kind.

‘REPS Mark 2’

A new agri-environment scheme modeled after REPS is being considered by the parties involved in government formation, AgriLand reported on Thursday, June 4.

According to senior political sources, the scheme is being described, for the purposes of the talks, as “REPS Mark 2 / Mark II”, though this will not necessarily be the title of the scheme.

It is also understood that the negotiating parties – Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party – are looking at the possibility of funding the scheme through revenue collected from the Carbon Tax, rather than through funding allocated in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).