Agriculture Minister non-committal on when co-operation area farmers will be reimbursed for 2024 investments

Independent Clare TD Michael McNamara has criticised the Department of Agriculture for failing to definitively confirm when it will issue reimbursements to 9,200 farmers making investments under the Non-Productive Investments (NPIs) option of the ACRES Co-operation (CP) stream.

Farmers in co-operation areas of ACRES making investments, such as fencing, solar pumps, culverts, hedgerow planting and rejuvenation, gates and drinking troughs, are entitled to reimbursements of a portion of their cost.

In the latest blow to farmers in the Acres Scheme, however, the Minister has refused to give a commitment to Deputy McNamara that investments approved to carried out in 2024 will be reimbursed this year.

“There was a strict deadline to have applied by 6 December 2023 and farmers were informed that in April 2024 they would receive approval to proceed with their investment. That approval date is now in doubt,” stated Deputy McNamara.

He continued, “The Department is expecting farmers to outlay money on these measures, deemed to be non-productive, essentially to protect the environment, yet it will not give certainty on when the partial reimbursement will take place.”

“Cashflow is as tight as I ever I can recall,” said McNamara. “it’s obvious that the Minister is out of touch with this reality. Farmers simply cannot afford the outlay in the absence of a definite timeframe for partial reimbursement,” he continued.

McNamara asked the Minister to give a commitment on the partial reimbursement date in the Dáil this week and was told “It would certainly be the intention that once approvals are given, they can move through to payments.””

“In a follow up written reply to me, the Minister was even more non-committal regarding approvals, never mind reimbursements. Confidence in the ACRES scheme is already undermined by the failure to pay farmers in cooperation areas their annual payment in 2023. These added delays will only add to farmers’ frustration and will further inhibit their ability to meet the costs of running their farms,” concluded Deputy McNamara.