The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) has described the fees being charged to farmers by their advisers for the completion of ACRES sustainability plans as “simply unacceptable”.

IFA rural development chair Michael Biggins highlighted that some farmers in co-operation areas are “being quoted €300, while others are being charged €900”.

“There is a huge difference in the charges being quoted to our members for the completion of their farm sustainability plan for ACRES.

"While plans for the ACRES general approach average between €400 to €600, it’s those in the co-operation areas which have sparked concerns,” he said.

In October, Teagasc released its price list for the completion of ACRES plans. Costs for completion of a plan range from €320 to €550, depending on farm size.

For farmers who did not need a farm call-out, the cost was lower. Costs associated with private planners vary across the country.

Going rate

While acknowledging the “significant body of work to be undertaken when drawing up plans for farmers”, Biggins warned that “farmers should not be charged above and beyond the going rate”.

IFA rural development chair Michael Biggins.

He suggested that farmers request a full breakdown of what the total cost for their ACRES application entails, so that they are fully aware of any additional aspects, such as VAT or travel expenses.

“While we acknowledge that the majority of planners are charging reasonable prices that reflect the level of work involved in formulating a plan, some prices are excessive and will take away a large chunk of money that farmers will receive from taking part in the scheme,” the IFA rural development chair said.

As of Wednesday, there has been some 22,439 ACRES plans submitted to the Department of Agriculture. The deadline for applications is 7 December.

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