An avalanche of direct payment penalties could be imposed on farmers who exceed their phosphorus allowance, the Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA) has warned.

Up to half of the country’s farmers are potentially exposed to phosphorus-related penalties, ACA president Michael Ryan said.

Exceeding the farm’s permitted phosphorus allowance “constitutes a baseline breach” of the nitrates regulations and thereby the rules governing the Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS) scheme, Ryan pointed out.

Penalties are typically around 3% to 5% of BISS payments but could potentially rise to 15% where breaches are deemed to be repeat offences.

The ACA president doubled down on warnings from individual consultants that farmers in the ACRES, who are not compliant with the regulations, risk losing 100% of their payment for area-based actions such as riparian margins, extensively-grazed pasture and low-input grassland.

The ACRES penalties alone could exceed €5,000 per year on larger holdings, consultants have estimated.

Irish Farmers Journal Sheep & Schemes Editor Darren Carty has been giving more details to Midwest Radio’s Michael D. McAndrew.

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