Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES)
The ACRES Scheme is a flagship agri-environment scheme in Ireland, under Ireland’s CAP Strategic Plan, aimed at addressing biodiversity decline and providing income support to up to 50,000 farm families in Ireland.
It has a budget of €1.5 billion and is designed to be farmer-friendly.
The scheme is phased, with at least two tranches, and commenced on 1 January 2023.
Objectives and Approach
- Hybrid Results-Based Approach: The scheme values participation and cooperation in delivering environmental objectives, rewarding farming for conservation with incentives and support.
- Flexibility: Farmers make decisions for their own farms, supported by training and advice, and are rewarded for their achievements.
- Payment for Results: All eligible land is scored annually with a user-friendly scorecard, with higher scores receiving higher payments.
- Payment for Actions: Funding is available for Non-Productive Investments and Landscape Actions to help farmers improve their scores and increase their habitat payments.
ACRES General and ACRES Co-operation
- ACRES General: Available nationally and offers a range of actions for individual farmers, both targeted and general.
- ACRES Co-operation: Available to farmers in defined high priority geographical areas and involves results-based payments as well as bespoke farm and landscape actions.
Qualification and Eligibility
- Farmers can check their eligibility through agfood.ie or by texting ‘DAFM ACRES’ followed by their herd number to 50124.
- To be eligible, an applicant must be aged 18 years or over, be the holder of an active business identity, have all lands farmed declared in their name, and have submitted a valid BPS 2021.
Farmers with the most environmentally important land have priority access to the scheme and must select specific actions based on their land type.
Farmers with land within the vulnerable water-mapped area in 2021 have the second-highest level of priority access.
Farmers who do not fall into the above tiers have no particular priority access to ACRES.
Actions and Payments
- A variety of actions are available under the scheme, with specific actions required for different tiers.
- Actions include low-input grassland, extensively grazed pasture, environmental management of arable fallow, riparian buffer zone strips, planting trees in riparian buffer zones, and more.
- Payment rates vary depending on the action, with higher scores receiving higher payments.
Application and Approval
- The ACRES system is expected to open in the third quarter of 2023 for applications for Tranche 2 of the Scheme.
- Successful applicants receive an approval letter initially, with a more detailed summary approval to follow.
The ACRES Scheme is a pivotal initiative in Ireland, focusing on environmental conservation and sustainable farming practices. It encourages farmer participation and offers various actions and payment structures to incentivize environmentally friendly farming.
Tullow, Co. Carlow
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