Sinn Féin’s spokesperson for Agriculture, Claire Kerrane, has expressed her satisfaction with the decision to extend the submission deadline for scorecards under the Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES). Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue announced on Friday (July 28) that he was granting a four-week extension to the closing date for submission of completed scorecards for the €1.5 billion scheme. The new closing date will be Friday, September 29, giving advisors an additional four weeks to complete the submissions. The previous deadline was August 31.
This extension comes after a formal request from Teagasc, urging the department to consider extending the deadline to the end of September for ACRES scorecard completion by advisors. Deputy Claire Kerrane had been calling on Minister McConalogue to extend the deadline since early June. She emphasized the pressure that advisors have been under, especially given the overwhelming demand for the scheme.
Kerrane highlighted the importance of fairness for advisors, ensuring they were given sufficient time to submit scorecards on time for farmers to receive payment. She stated that an extension until the end of September, as she had proposed, would have been a minor adjustment to the scheme, ensuring its success for those involved. Kerrane expressed disappointment that the minister did not make this announcement sooner, acknowledging the stress that advisors have been experiencing. She believed that the initial deadline of the end of next month was unrealistic and placed an impossible burden on advisors.
Kerrane also mentioned issues with the delayed launch of the app and the difficulties some advisors are facing when uploading data due to poor coverage in certain areas. She emphasized that the additional time granted was much needed. She expressed hope that this extension would provide peace of mind to advisors and reassurance to farmers who have placed their trust in the scheme. Furthermore, she called on the department and minister to be more prompt in making decisions that are sought in good faith from farmers in the future.