The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine will issue approval letters to 5,000 participants selected to participate in the REAP project.
This pilot is one of the transitional measures for Irish farming using funding the minister secured this year for environmental initiatives.
It forms part of the suite of measures provided for in the 10th amendment to the Rural Development Programme recently approved by the European Commission.
Payments of up to €12,600
Commenting at the launch of REAP, Minister McConalogue said, “I’m hugely excited about the REAP project as it helps us, farmers and Advisors to identify the value we can bring to our next national agri-environmental scheme by trialling some measures now.”
“It will identify the environmental and biodiversity returns from specific farm measures while delivering a key new income to farmers. It will, of course, also provide meaningful payments to farmers with [payments] of up to €12,600 potentially over the course [of the] pilot.”
The minister added, “I was delighted to see the huge level of interest and to be able to increase the participation numbers by an extra 3,000 above the initial proposal.”
“I’d like to thank the European Commission for their engagement on this over the last few weeks and for recognising the benefits of the project, and we will continue to work closely with them on its implementation to help inform the design of the next CAP.”
He said Irish farmers have shown “huge interest” in participating in the project, with over 10,800 applications to participate received by the closing date in mid-May.
Benefit of scheme
Following consideration of these applications and within the set parameters of a pilot project of this nature, the DAFM has granted approvals for almost 5,000 participants.
This, it added, is more than double the original level of participation envisaged.
Resultingly, it will lead to a “significant” level of training at farmer and advisor level. It will also ensure that a significant sample of Irish farms tests the results-based scoring system.
The participants selected will now work with their advisors to score the land brought into REAP this year to establish its environmental and biodiversity status.
In conjunction with their advisor, farmers will undertake environmental commitments to increase the environmental value of existing farm features to improve the environmental score in year two. Farms with the highest-scoring will receive the greatest payment.
The results-based approach is expected to feature strongly in future agri-environment schemes under the new CAP.
‘A win-win outcome’
The minister concluded, “REAP will help demonstrate the environmental value and economic returns from specific farm measures and allows a more focused use of funding – a win-win outcome, for both the environment and farmers.
This significant level of investment in developing on-farm, agri-environment measures shows the commitment of farmers and this Government to achieving our ambitious environmental goals while investing in farm incomes.”
“I would encourage all farmers selected for participation to fully engage with the process by working closely with their advisor.”