—– Consultation is closed ——
Summary of Proposed Agri-Environment Results Based Pilot Project
The Programme for Government commits to rewarding farmers for adapting to more sustainable methods of farming and to the development of a new agri-environment scheme capable of delivering broad environmental and biodiversity benefits that will align financial supports with climate objectives. To advance this objective funding has been made available for an agri-environment pilot project. It is proposed to do this as a results-based project in order to align it with the principles of the next CAP.
Results Based Model
Results-based agri-environment payment schemes reward farmers for committed environmental effort by linking payments to the quality of environmental outcomes delivered. This contrasts with the standard ‘prescription-based’ model used in GLAS, where payments are made for carrying out defined actions in line with scheme specifications.
Examples of prescription-based agri-environment actions include the planting of Wild Bird Cover, using Low Emission Slurry Spreading technologies and positioning bee and bat boxes as outlined in the GLAS specifications. Prescription based actions can include mandatory requirements to be implemented to qualify for payment such as grazing, mowing dates and fertilizer and herbicide restrictions. Under this approach the same payment is made irrespective of the subsequent ecological quality achieved.
Under the results-based approach farm features are scored to identify how management practices have impacted on the environmental status of the holding. Scoring is calculated with reference to defined indicators, which are chosen to reflect overall biodiversity and ecological integrity. Payments are linked to environmental quality. In recognition of the environmental and biodiversity quality achieved, farms with the highest scoring receive the greatest payment.
Results-based schemes can involve payments awarded solely on results achieved or may be a blended model with payments for ‘non-productive investments’ which support the delivery of biodiversity and environmental benefits. By linking payments to defined indicators the results-based model creates a financial incentive linked with outcomes for participating farmers. The model also makes it worthwhile for participants to gain an understanding of the conditions required for the delivery of optimum biodiversity and environmental benefits.
Results Based Experience in Ireland to Date
The results based model has been used successfully by the Burren Project and various EIP (European Innovation Partnership) projects including the Hen Harrier Project, the BRIDE Project and the Protecting Farmland Pollinators Project. To date its application has been confined to specific environmental challenges and geographic areas. The model has not been tested on a national basis to date.
This pilot will trial a results-based scoring and payment system with suitable measures on participating farms across the country with a view to identifying upscaling potential and feasibility for use of the model in the next agri-environment scheme following on from GLAS. The pilot will aim to cover a broad geographic spread and include a wide range of farming enterprise types.
1. To test the potential suitability of a results-based payment system at farm level and the feasibility of upscaling this model as part of the next national agri-environment scheme to follow on from GLAS
2. To identify training needs for farmers, advisors and other stakeholders
3. To identify the barriers to farmer buy-in to the results-based model
4. To raise awareness and achieve attitudinal change among farmers of the value of biodiversity and other ecosystem services on their farms
5. To test the suitability of Department procedures and systems with regards to application procedures, payment procedures/systems, budgeting/financial procedures and audit/control functions.
6. To identify control and inspection implications
7. To test the monitoring and evaluation aspects for results-based payment actions.
Environmental issues to be considered
2. Water quality
3. Soil health
4. Climate mitigation/adaptation