Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice has criticised REAP, both the scheme itself and its selection process.
His commentary comes as the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has issued rejection letters to some scheme applicants.
Earlier this month, the DAFM confirmed that it issued approval letters to 5,000 farmers as part of the pilot. According to the DAFM, farmers can draw down up to €12,600 over the course of the pilot.
Michael Fitzmaurice TD, said: “Due to the scheme being oversubscribed, approximately 2,000 farmers have been told that they haven’t been accepted onto the scheme as they weren’t selected as part of a ‘computerised random selection process’.”
“We now have a situation where a farmer may have been rejected from the scheme, despite their next-door neighbour – who received the same amount of points as part of the initial assessment – being accepted.”
“I am also led to believe that any successful applicants, who decide to drop out of the scheme will not be replaced at all, meaning there is a possibility that the full budget will not be used.”
Low Input Grassland measure
However, he said possibly the scheme’s “most worrying aspect” is the indicator list of species for the Low Input Grassland measure.
“From talking to planners on the ground, there are significant concerns that even the successful applicants to the scheme will find it extremely difficult to score highly on this measure – meaning the value of participating in the scheme will be greatly diminished.”
He stated that the payments available under this scheme will not match what farmers received under previous environmental schemes, including GLAS and REPS.
“And while I understand that this is a pilot scheme, it does not bode well for the incoming CAP period if this is what is being drawn up.”
“Farmers must be paid fairly for the level of work put in as part of an environmental scheme,” Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice concluded.