Payment rates are likely to be in the region of circa €60-€65/ha under the DAFM’s new Eco-Scheme, which rewards farmers for undertaking actions that are beneficial to climate, biodiversity, water quality and the environment.
The voluntary annual agri-enviromental scheme – which has a total financial allocation of €297 m per annum – is open to all active farmers who commit to observing agricultural practices beneficial for the climate and the environment, he told viewers of the virtual information session.
Who can apply?
To receive support under the Eco-Scheme, eligible applicants must, as per the DAFM’s T&Cs:
- Be a holder of a registered herd number or have applied for a herd number on or before May 29th, 2023;
- Meet the definition of an ‘active farmer’;
- Submit a 2023 BISS and other area-based schemes application declaring their land located within the jurisdiction of Ireland and apply for the Eco-Scheme;
- Meet the minimum requirements to receive a direct payment as per Article 18 of Regulation (EU) 2021/2115 of the European Parliament and of the Council of December 2nd, 2021. In this regard, support under the Eco-scheme is not granted for amounts lower than €100;
- Each herd owner/partnership must select 2 Agricultural Practices (or one enhanced option) and meet the requirements for the selected practices they intend to undertake.
To qualify for payments, farmers must complete two agricultural practices from the DAFM’s official list.
Farmers can opt in/opt out on an annual basis and can change agricultural practices annually, if they desire or alternatively, they can continue to carry out the same practice.
8 AP (Agricultural Practices):
Under the scheme, farmers are required to select and complete two agricultural practices yearly (or one enhanced option as explained below), as follows:
- 1 – Space for Nature;
- 2 – Extensive Livestock Production;
- 3 – Limiting chemical Nitrogen use;
- 4 – Planting native trees and hedgerows;
- 5 – Use of GPS-controlled fertiliser spreaders/sprayers;
- 6 – Soil sampling and appropriate liming;
- 7 – Planting of a break crop;
- 8 – Sowing of a multi-species sward.
According to the DAFM, three enhanced options, those being AP1, AP2 and AP4, can count as two actions where an applicant meets the desired obligations.
The application process for the Eco-Scheme will take place through AgFood.ie and is integrated with the BISS application, as reported by That’s Farming in recent days.
Speaking as part of the DAFM’s new CAP schemes 2023-2027 webinar on Tuesday, March 7th, 2023, David Buckley of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s Direct Payments Division outlined:
“The Eco-Scheme is not linked to payment entitlements. So, if I were a farmer, for example, and had, for whatever reason, no entitlements, but have 10ha of land or ground, once I come into the Eco-Scheme and carry out two required agricultural practices that I committed to do, I am perfectly entitled to receive an Eco-Scheme payment, independent of Eco-Scheme entitlements.”
“Whether I have 10ha with no entitlements or 10ha with, for example, two entitlements, I can still receive 10 Eco-Scheme payments.”
“As for a payment rate of circa €60-€65/ha, the reason why we have a range is that it does depend on uptake, so how many farmers actually commit to applying for the scheme because it is a voluntary scheme.”
According to Buckley, the DAFM intends to issue Eco-Scheme payments annually for all eligible hectares covered by the commitments a farmer undertakes, with a similar timeline to the BISS (BPS’ replacement) annually.
The DAFM has published terms and conditions for the Eco-Scheme on its website in the booklet entitled ‘Terms and Conditions and other 2023 Area-Based Schemes’.
A series of articles on That’s Farming will discuss, in detail, each of the 8 APs, as listed by the publication above.