Proposals on the new Results-based Environment-Agri pilot Project (REAP) scheme have been described as a “huge disappointment” by the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA).

This follows a meeting with Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine officials in relation to the new REAP agri-environment scheme.

Commenting afterwards, ICMSA Farm and Rural Affairs Committee chairman Denis Drennan said that farmers will be hugely disappointed by the scheme’s budget and the structure.

Drennan said that it was a “very far cry” from the version that had been “spun and hyped” by official sources.  

The chairman said that, with a budget of €10 million, only approximately 2,200 farmers will be able to participate in the scheme with a maximum payment of approximately €5,000 per participant.

“Yet again farmers find themselves in a position where they are willing to invest in environmental initiatives – but our government and the EU have failed to put up the necessary funding despite launching multiple environmental strategies at this stage,” he added. 

“The old adage is that actions speak louder than words and it’s absolutely obvious that there is an unwillingness to invest in environmental public good – despite all the rhetoric.  

“This disconnect between aspirations and investment has to be addressed,” said Drennan.

While acknowledging that some measures may be of relevance to some commercial farmers, the ICMSA Committee Chairperson said that the “overwhelming disappointment is the limited options available for all farmers”.

“The good work that farmers are already doing is not being acknowledged and, given the budget, the national impact of the scheme will be very limited,” he continued.  

“The structure of the scheme is also inflexible and does not allow for recognition of specific features on individual farms – while placing family farms farming over 140kgs/ha in a so-called Group 2 with a lower priority for access to the scheme is hugely disappointing and fails to recognise the need to support commercial farmers who wish to invest in environmental initiatives.     

“We seem to have been listening forever to politicians preaching to us on environmental measures and the support they want to give us.

“The REAPS scheme they announced today was their chance to prove their intentions – and they failed.

“They have failed – yet again – to give meaningful support to farmers who want to carry out environmental measures on their farms,” he concluded.