The REPS (Rural Environment Protection Scheme), scheme is designed to reward Farmers for carrying out their farming activities in an environmentally friendly manner and to bring about environmental improvement on existing farms (Department of Agriculture).
My understanding of this scheme is that farmers will be compensated/reimbursed for the extra costs in carrying out environmentally friendly projects on their farms. It’s not actually an income but a compensation to encourage environmental protection.
It seems, however, that farmers (and the Government) have been using it as an income. Here are some comments from a farmers protest last week in response to cuts in the scheme (RTE News, 4th report, 1st item).
By putting us out of the REP scheme we’re not going to get the money so the country is not going to receive the money.
It’s a bread and butter issue now, people don’t know where they’re going to get money to put food on the table and that’s the situation on the ground.
The school buses, the school books and the uniforms, they’re at their wits end. I’ve seen grown men crying where they have no income.
We’re not crying wolf this time I mean we’ve taken a 30% cut since last October. We don’t mind taking our fair share of the cuts; villages in rural Ireland will be decimated, this was putting money into local economies not just farmer’s pockets.