RURAL ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION SCHEME (REPS)


What is the REPS?
The REPS, is a five year scheme, where a farmer enters into a contract with the Department of Agriculture to farm in accordance with an agri-environmental plan drawn up by an approved planning agency.

Who can apply for REPS?
The scheme is open to both part-time and full time farmers who are farming at least 3 hectares. This land, can either be owned, or leased (except leased commonages) for a period that encompasses the whole duration of the plan.

What are the conditions?
There are 11 measures in the REPS scheme which are directed towards controlling nitrogen and phosphate use and stocking rate, controlling waste and effluent around the farmyard, protecting water quality, hedges and features of archaeological or historical interest on the farm.

Are these measures obligatory on joining REPS?
Yes.

How can a farmer apply?
A farmer needs to contract a Department of Agriculture approved Planner (Teagasc or Private Planner) to draw up the environmental plan.
The planner must visit the farm, take the necessary details of the farm, stock levels, measure buildings, walk all of the farm, documenting boundary fences and internal fences as well as key features of environmental value. Soil tests must be taken (on an average of one for every 2 - 4 ha.).
The application for REPS and plan are sent to the Department of Agriculture, Farm Development Service by the farmer.

Is there a stocking rate limit on the REPS?
No. But the value for nitrogen and phosphate determine the stock level as well as artificial fertilisers put onto the farm. Limits are set in the REPS scheme. The limit of nitrogen is 170 kg of nitrogen per hectare for organic fertiliser. The limit for in-organic or bag nitrogen is 90 kg. per hectare.

Can I join REPS if there is pollution on my farm?
No.

How long do I have to carry out pollution investment?
The investment must be carried out within three years of joining the REPS.

Will I be inspected before approval?
5% of farmers receive monitor checks by the Department of Agriculture.

When will first payment be made?
Payment will be made shortly after approval by the Department of Agriculture. First payment represents half of the annual payment. The second half is paid automatically 6 months later. This only applies to first year payments.

When will my second and subsequent payments be made?
The farmers must apply for the REPS payment in or around the same time each year (within three months of the anniversary date) over the duration of the plan. Payments will be made once the application is submitted and following a farm inspection where selected.

What is the payment per acre?
The payment per acre is 50 up to a maximum of 100 ac. plus there are additional payments for 5 supplementary measures.

What are the supplementary measures?
There are five of them
- Natural Heritage Areas / Special Areas of Conservation/Commonages
- Local breeds.
- Long term setaside (Riparian Zone).
- Public access and leisure facilities.
- Organic farming.

What are the top-ups under the supplementary measures?

NHA / SAC - 30 per acre up to 100 ac, 8/ac for the next 100 ac. and 6/ac for the next
Commonages including 100 ac. Payment only on designated land as well as degraded areas
Degraded areas and commonages (non designated).


Rare breeds - A payment of 100 for each livestock unit or registered animal.


Long term Setaside - Payment of 246 per acre up to a maximum of 6.17 acres.
(Riparian Zone)


Public access - Payment of 10 per acre up to a maximum of 100 acres.


Organic Farming - 60 per acre in conversion status, 30 per acre for organic status.


Can I avail of more than one supplementary payment?
Yes, but only in the case of rare breeds.

Will I be inspected for second payments?
Compliance checks are carried out on 50% of farms approximately over the 5 year period. Furthermore, 5% of files can be assessed under a more rigorous monitor check.

Will I be penalised for non compliance with aspects of the REPS scheme?
Yes.

Can I be expelled from REPS?
Yes. If the penalties reach 100% or if pollution exists on the farm. Also refund of payment already made maybe requested. Farmers expelled from the scheme are debarred for 2 years from rejoining the scheme.

Is it possible to appeal a penalty?
Yes. First of all to the local FDS office. If that fails you have recourse to appeal to the Department of Agriculture, REPS Appeal Unit, Kildare Street, Dublin 2.

How many farmers are likely to be in REPS by the year 2000?
It is estimated that 50,000 farmers will have joined the scheme at that time.

Will the scheme continue after the five year period?
Recent EU Agenda 2000 Proposals suggest that the scheme will last at least until 2006. Also in the case of new REPS/SAC Package farmers will be able to join the scheme in these areas for 15 years (3 five year plans).

What is the position of a farmer who is in REPS and wishes to afforest parts of his land?
Farmers can afforest parts of their land without suffering clawback of payments already made under the REPS Scheme. However where the amount of land farmed under REPS is less than 100ac. the payments under the scheme will reduce by the difference for the remaining years of the plan.

Are payments made on additional land acquired?
Yes, up to a maximum of 100 ac. (extra payment will apply when next payment is due). A new plan is drawn up for a new 5 year period if the additional area is greater than 2 ha.

Is 11 month conacre land eligible for payment?
No, but the grassland management element of the scheme must be complied with.




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