A trebling of the current GLAS budget is the only realistic way to approach a new REPS-type scheme.
That is the view of ICSA rural development chair, Tim Farrell.
“The hope is that 70,000 farmers will opt into the scheme and in order to facilitate those numbers an annual budget of €750m would be the minimum required. This amounts to a trebling of the current GLAS budget.” he said.
Mr Farrell made his comments following a meeting of the association’s rural development committee.
‘Make a real difference’
He said that mooted ringfencing of €1.5 billon in carbon taxes could, therefore, cover a maximum of five years, because that is the length of agri-environmental schemes, and only then if it was matched with monies from elsewhere.
However, through a combination of those carbon tax revenues, exchequer funding from the state and steering a portion of CAP monies in more targeted ways, farmers could have the potential to make a real difference, he added.
“But the time has come to give those farmers the means to deliver on ambitious targets and reward them for their contribution.”
‘Drastic cuts’ in payments
“Farmers were let down by the drastic cuts in payments when they moved from the original REPS, through AEOS and on to GLAS, which coincided with an increasing expectation that farmers should do more on climate change and biodiversity.”
“Those expectations are still there, but the penny must drop that those expectations cannot be met without adequate levels of financial support and reward.”
“Most farmers struggle to make ends meet as it is, so they simply cannot fund a climate mitigation solution for the entire country.”
A ‘real say’
The farm group said it wants to see farmers given a “real say” in devising the scheme to ensure it can work on the ground and deliver a real financial benefit to them.
“It is crucial that farmers don’t face excessive planning costs as a result of engaging with the scheme.” Farrell concluded.