The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has confirmed that payments to farmers in the Cooperation Project (CP) stream of the Agri Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES) for will be delayed until next year.
The minister said that payments under tranche 1 of the agri-environmental scheme will commence on the week beginning December 18.
This will involve payments for farmers in the ACRES General stream, while payments for ACRES Co-operation Project (CP) participants are being progressed and will begin to issue in February 2024.
The minister said that two thirds of all ACRES General participants are in the final stages of being processed for payment before the year end.
He said that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) will continue to process payments, both General, CP and ACRES Training Scheme (ATS) until all valid claims are paid.
Earlier this year, Minister McConalogue decided to approve all 46,000 valid applicants into ACRES, across both the General and Co-operation Project streams.
Under the scheme, 25% of the productive land area in the State has been scored for the first time.
The minister acknowledged “the intensive and focused effort” from his department, advisors, ACRES Co-operation Project Teams and farmers on the first year of the new scheme.
McConalogue noted that farmers were expecting payment before the end of the year but said that deciding to include all 46,000 applicants into tranche 1 of ACRES had put significant pressure on delivering all payments by year end.
”My team has been working very hard to expedite this as quickly as possible but with the unprecedented numbers, it has not been possible to get all applicants paid in ACRES by the year end.
“Payments will commence on December 18 with two thirds of all ACRES General participants in the final stages of being processed for payment before the year end.
“Due to the additional complexity associated with the co-operation (CP) stream, payments for ACRES CP participants are being progressed and will begin to issue February 2024.
“I can assure all ACRES applicants that everything possible is and will continue to be done to expedite payments to all 46,000 farmers,” the minister said.