Farm Ireland
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Sunday 16 December 2018

Farmers refusing to accept cuts as ANC review looms

Stock photo
Stock photo
INHFA President Colm O'Donnell. Photo Brian Farrell
Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

There is growing speculation that the long-awaited ANC review will be published next week, writes Declan O'Brien.

The Department of Agriculture had been engaging with the EU Commission regarding the re-designation of lands as part of the review; however, industry sources indicated that this process has now ended.

It is understood that the farm organisations have been called to meetings with the Department next week to discuss the outcome of the review.

The remapping of the ANC areas has the potential to be politically explosive for the Department and the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, given that 75pc of the country is designated and 100,000 farmers are eligible for payments.

As one farmer representative put it: "No farmer wants to lose payments, and they'll all argue that they deserve them.''

With €227m paid out this year, the average payment per applicant was €2,270. For 2019 the budget for the scheme increases to €250m.

The in-depth review of ANC designations and payments is part of an EU-wide process.

Lands that are currently deemed ANCs were assessed according to bio-physical criteria - these include wetness of soil, slopes, stoniness, soil texture and other limiting natural handicaps to agricultural production.

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The IFA's Joe Brady this week called on Minister Creed to protect the areas that are currently classified as ANCs.

He said that the review must ensure that the all farmers who depend on ANC payments continue to receive them, and that Minister Creed must ensure that no farmer is at a loss.

The INHFA has called for the review to target ANC supports exclusively at the lands that are deemed to be scientifically constrained.

The INHFA president, Colm O'Donnell, called for the retention of the mountain grazing area as a category in the review, along with the retention of the two lowland land types of more severely and less severely handicapped.

Mr O'Donnell also called on Minister Creed to look at supporting areas with specific permanent constraints, such as those impacted by nature directives.

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