The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, has confirmed that there is “full funding” available to cover the 50,000 farmers who have applied to the Agri Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES). However, he noted that the funding is currently capped at 50,000 and further assessments will be made in the future to determine if additional funding is required.
During a session in the Dáil, Independent TD Verona Murphy raised concerns about the allocation of resources to ACRES. She questioned whether the allocated €1.5 billion would be sufficient to accommodate the 50,000 farmers in the scheme. Murphy also highlighted the potential impact on tillage farmers, stating that the costs of regulations were disproportionately affecting them in comparison to dairy farmers.
In response, Minister McConalogue acknowledged the concerns but assured that the necessary agreements and budgets were in place to fully fund the 50,000 farmers currently in ACRES. He emphasized that the government would closely monitor the scheme’s progress and assess if additional funding is needed in the future.
Murphy also raised the issue of forestry, expressing frustration at the lack of progress in this sector. She argued that while farmers were able to plant trees and hedges through ACRES efficiently, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) was unable to do the same. Murphy called for a more comprehensive approach to reducing carbon emissions, rather than solely focusing on the agricultural sector and penalizing farmers.
Minister McConalogue defended the department’s efforts in forestry, stating that significant work had been done in recent years. He highlighted that the processing time for forestry licenses had been significantly reduced, with applications now being approved within six to nine months. The minister also emphasized the government’s investment in both forestry and tillage, which had contributed to the strong uptake of ACRES.
Overall, Minister McConalogue assured that there was sufficient funding available to cover the 50,000 farmers in ACRES. He acknowledged the concerns raised by Deputy Murphy and emphasized the government’s commitment to monitoring the scheme’s progress and addressing any additional funding requirements in the future.