The Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (‘ACRES’)

ACRES, which is the first scheme that the DAFM will deliver under the €9.8b CAP Strategic Plan, will target 50,000 farm families.

They will receive support directly under this scheme to deliver “measurable” climate, biodiversity, and water quality gains.

The DAFM proposes that, like GLAS, all farmers will have the opportunity to apply for ACRES.

There are, however, two entry approaches in the proposed new scheme namely:

  • An ACRES General approach, available nationally (outside of the high priority geographical area as defined for the ACRES Co-operation approach below), which offers a range of measures (both targeted and general); and
  • An ACRES Co-operation approach, available to farmers in defined high priority geographical areas. Eight areas in the country have been defined by a cross departmental working group as having particular environmental characteristics and farmers in those areas may engage in the new AECM through cooperation project teams.

All farmers who apply under the Basic Payment Scheme will have the opportunity to apply for ACRES with both approaches offering attractive rates of payments, with the approach for which they are eligible determined by the location of their land.

The Co-operation Approach will build on the fantastic work done through EIP programmes in recent years in the Burren and elsewhere throughout the country, with local project teams bringing farmers together to take a common approach to restoring biodiversity in high priority areas.  

The Burren is one of the eight priority geographical areas in the ACRES Co-operation Approach.  From today, farmers can check whether their land is in a co-operation area by logging on to AgFood here.  Farmers who are not in a co-operation area can still apply to ACRES under the general approach.

ACRES will complement other environmentally focussed initiatives under the CAP Strategic Plan, in particular the Organic Farming Scheme, where participating farmers will be offered priority Tier 1 entry to ACRES.  It is great to see that the results-based payment model will be used in ACRES so that the best results get the highest payments.

the next steps in the preparatory process:

  • Farmers will be able to identify the ACRES approach for which they are eligible by logging on to the Department’s online system (AgFood) from Wednesday, 22nd June 2022.
  • They can also check this by texting the Department through an SMS facility by doing the following:

SMS Facility – the ‘ACRES Stream checker’ has been developed by the Department as a means by which farmers may ascertain which AECM approach they are eligible for, with instructions as follows:

  • Applicant will send initial SMS to 50124 with the following text “DAFM ACRES” followed by their Herd ID. For example “DAFM ACRES A1234567”
  • Department will receive the SMS and check the applicants Stream eligibility based on their submitted BPS 2021 Application data.
  • Once Stream has been determined for the supplied Herd ID, the department will reply with an SMS including the Eligible Stream information. For example, SMS to be received “A1234567 – Stream: Co-operation, CP Area: EAST SOUTH EAST. Please contact your Advisor to submit an Access Agreement”

In addition to the above,

  • An Access Agreement screen is going live on AgFood on 22nd June 2022, where ACRES advisors acting on behalf of their clients, can sign up to facilitate preparation of application in due course. This is needed to link potential clients with their selected adviser so they may work on their behalf on the scheme; The ACRES Access Agreement is an agreement between an ACRES applicant and his/her advisor so that BPS/BISS data may be accessed for the purposes for ACRES (including the preparation of the Farm Sustainability Plan and the subsequent application). To be eligible to apply on behalf of his/her clients in due course, an advisor must be recorded on the Department’s Corporate Customer Management (CCM)[1] as an ‘Ag Agent with ACRES Training’ (also known as an ‘ACRES advisor’) and his/her clients must be associated with him/her on CCM for ACRES.
  • ACRES Advisor training is scheduled for early July 2022. 

[1] Formerly the Corporate Customer System (‘CCS’)