A new €10m agri-environmental pilot scheme has been launched by the Department of Agriculture.
The results-based environmental agri-pilot (REAP) will open for applications from up to 2,000 farmers until 10 May. It will run until the end of 2022 with farmers receiving payments for two full years.
The maximum payment will be €6,900 with the average payment expected to be in the region of €4,800 annually.
There are no measures for tillage farmers
It will be targeted towards livestock farmers with those in GLAS, the organic scheme and EIP projects excluded from joining. Those farming commonage and land with heather will also be excluded.
There are no measures for tillage farmers in the pilot but those with a mixed enterprise will be able to join.
The pilot will be based on three separate payments paid across a maximum of 10ha and a minimum of two hectares.
Those who join will receive an annual €1,200 participation fee.
They will then choose between two anchor measures – low-input grassland (LIG) and multi-species ley (MSL). LIG will have a payment rate between €250/ha and €400/ha, while MSL will range between €125/ha and €275/ha.
Under LIG, there will also be a bonus payment of €50/ha for those who cut late meadows.
All farmers will have the opportunity to add a further €1,200 to their payments over the lifetime of the pilot by completing complementary action. These actions are tree planting, paid at €9.20/tree and hedgerow planting or infilling paid at a rate of €15.80/m.
Farmers will participate through an adviser and will have to cover their fees.
Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue emphasised that the Department was constrained in what could be introduced during a transition period between the old Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the new one in 2023.
He said the pilot programme was as attractive as possible from a farm income perspective while it would also offer an opportunity to test results-based schemes on a wider scale.
The learnings from the pilot will help inform a new flagship agri-environmental scheme that will succeed GLAS in 2023.