Farm Ireland

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Farmers set to find out disadvantaged area status within weeks

The ANC payment can amount to about €4,000 for many farmers across the country.

Clare Island is located in Clew Bay, Co Mayo, four miles from the mainland
Clare Island is located in Clew Bay, Co Mayo, four miles from the mainland
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Farmers are set to find out whether they will be eligible for future ‘disadvantaged area’ payments within weeks.

Work is ongoing in the Department of Agriculture to produce a new map of areas which are deemed to be eligible for payments under the Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) scheme formerly known as disadvantaged areas.

Payments under the scheme can be as high as €4,000.

Under the new system of designation that 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; dryness; excess soil moisture; limited soil drainage; unfavourable texture and stoniness; shallow rooting depth; poor chemical properties; and steep slope.

The Department has commenced work on this project and relevant technical experts are sourcing and analysing the data in respect of the new criteria.

This analysis will identify areas deemed to be facing natural constraints, which will in parallel be subjected to a refinement process.

Once this process is complete, the draft data will provide the basis for the identification of eligible areas for ANC.

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In the Dail last week, the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed said it is my ambition to ensure that anybody who currently receives a payment holds on to it.

“We hope we will be in a position to ensure that everybody who has a payment at the moment will hold it.

“However, as to whether I can guarantee that, of course I cannot, but I suspect it is highly likely that the overwhelming majority of people will retain the payment.

“That is the premise from which I started on this process.

“The Commission has set down revised criteria and we must apply them to the process that is under way across the entire European Union.

The Minister said the critical timeline is that farmers must have the knowledge of the outcome in order to inform their 2018 basic payment scheme application.

He said he expects it will be several weeks before we have a draft outline of maps which have the biophysical criteria superimposed on a map of Ireland and which show the areas that are included or excluded.

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