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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnanehttps://www.thatsfarming.com/
Catherina Cunnane hails from a fifth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the company in 2015.
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Eco-scheme: Farmers could be paid €66-77/ha

Eco-scheme: What is the DAFM proposing?  

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s eco-scheme is “one of the biggest changes” under Pillar one of Ireland’s next CAP.

That is what Brian Batt of the DAFM told farmers during a public information meeting on Ireland’s CSP draft in recent weeks.

He explained that from next year onwards, it will be mandatory for member states but voluntary for farmers.

The DAFM has assigned a budget of circa €297m within Pillar 1 (25% ring-fencing of Direct Payments’ allocation) for this.

In total, there are eight (also two further enhanced options) agricultural practices “beneficial” for water quality, biodiversity, climate, and the environment under the measure.

Batt told attendees that payment is only for interventions that “go beyond” baseline requirements and conditionality.

The DAFM will issue payments, under its eco-scheme, annually on a per eligible HA basis as opposed to entitlements.

  • The DAFM will integrate the Eco-Scheme application process with a BISS application annually;
  • Farmers must undertake and deliver two practices annually;
  • It intends to issue eco-Scheme payments to farmers annually, in late November/early December;
  • Eligibility – All active farmers who make commitments to observe agricultural practices “beneficial” for the climate and the environment.
  • According to the DAFM, farmers can opt in/out on an annual basis. “You can come into it [eco-scheme] for the five years of the CAP, or not come into it at all; it is a voluntary annual scheme”;
  • Furthermore, Batt confirmed that farmers could change agricultural practices annually;
  • Agricultural practices are subject to agreement with EU Commission.

How will the DAFM administer the scheme?

  • The DAFM’s Direct Payments division in Portlaoise, Co Laois will oversee this;
  • The DAFM costed the scheme on income foregone and costs incurred in accordance with Art 31 (7) (b);
  • In as much as possible, Batt stated that the DAFM is trying to avoid overlapping actions with AECM from double funding, administration, compliance etc.
  • The DAFM said it intends to only partially compensate but there is some flexibility to increase payment rates if uptake is low;
  • Batt explained that if 129,000 farmers participate, then the DAFM will set the payment rate per hectare at circa €66/ha/yr. However, he added that if there is an 85% uptake, (c. 110,000 farmers), the payment rate will be c. €77/ha/yr.

In the next part of this article, we will look at eco-scheme measures.

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