Tillage farmers will be at a “distinct financial disadvantage” under the new Agri Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES), according to the Irish Grain Growers Group (IGGG).

The official name of the scheme was announced yesterday (Tuesday, June 21), along with some key details on scheme eligibility.

The scheme will have two approaches for entry – ACRES General and ACRES Co-operation.

The latter is the higher-paying approach. However, only farmers in certain areas of the country can enter the co-operation approach and, as these areas are concentrated in the west and northwest of the country, many tillage farmers won’t be able to avail of the higher payment.

The maximum payment in ACRES General will be around €7,000, while the maximum payment for ACRES Co-operation is about €10,000.

The IGGG said last night that it had been disappointed with the lack of discussion on Pillar II funding under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) during the CAP reform stakeholder meetings in recent years.

“We have continually highlighted imbalance in Pillar II funding, especially in relation to this new ACRES scheme,” the group said (the scheme was known as the Agri Environment Climate Measure, or AECM, before yesterday).

“We cannot comprehend why payment is limited to €7,000/individual tillage farmer applicant.

“The tillage sector has excellent carbon credentials. Chemical fertiliser usage efficiencies are far superior to other sectors and with the current food security issues, where we are importing Russian grain to feed stock, it is unfathomable that every effort is not made to promote the Irish tillage sector,” the IGGG argued.

The group says that “the least that should have been expected” is that tillage farmers would receive payment equal to those farmers entering the co-operation stream of ACRES.

The IGGG says it “rejects and has constantly rejected” the different payment rate for establishing margins on arable land versus margins on grassland.

The tillage farmer association argued that the scheme leaves these farmers at a “distinct financial disadvantage over a five-year period”.

“The payment rates must be revisited before the scheme is officially opened,” the IGGG statement concluded.