Political hot potato on the horizon amid proposed change of disadvantaged areas
The Irish Government is currently in the process of reviewing the Area of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme - better known to farmers as the Disadvantage Area Payment.
EU regulations require all Member States to implement a new system for designating eligible areas under the Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) scheme, from 2018 at the latest.
At present, eligible land under the scheme is designated by reference to criteria such as stocking density, family farm income, population density and the percentage of the working population engaged in agriculture.
Under the new system of designation, which must be introduced in 2018, eligible areas will have to be designated on the basis of biophysical criteria. The criteria set out in the legislation are:
- Low temperature
- Excess soil moisture
- Limited soil drainage
- Unfavourable texture and stoniness
- Shallow rooting depth
- Poor chemical properties
- Steep slope.
The Department has commenced work on this project, and relevant technical experts are currently sourcing and analysing the data in relation to the new criteria.
Officials have also been in contact with the Commission to discuss technical issues arising.
Once this process is complete, the draft data will provide the basis for the identification of eligible areas for ANC. It is envisaged that domestic stakeholders will be consulted as this process develops.
Addressing the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture this week, European Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan said there is no submission firm the Irish government yet on ANCs.