Farm Ireland

Tuesday 19 February 2019

Hill farmers call for land quality criteria on ANC scheme payments

The ANC scheme has a budget of €228m
The ANC scheme has a budget of €228m
Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Payments levels under the reviewed ANC scheme must reflect the underlying quality of the land and the degree of constraint involved in farming the ground, the INHFA has insisted.

INHFA president Colm O’Donnell maintained that ANC designations had to be based on science and that the methodology underpinning the decision-making process had to be open and transparent.

The Department of Agriculture has indicated that a full review of the ANC scheme and a remapping of the ANC areas has been completed and its finding will inform payment levels for the 2019 scheme.

“The INHFA are engaging with the Department to access as part of the review the methodology currently in place for setting payment rates/bands within the updated ANC scheme,” Mr O’Donnell said.

The INHFA leader said the methodology employed must “reflect more fairly how farmers are compensated for the level of constraint experienced in their farming systems.”

Last week Minister Creed confirmed that payments of €185.6m had commenced to 77,000 farmers under the ANC scheme and to island-based livestock owners.

“These payments represent a timely and significant financial boost for farmers and for the wider rural economy. My Department will continue to process, as a matter of urgency, all remaining cases for payment as they meet scheme criteria,” Minister Creed said.

The provision of an additional €25m for the ANC scheme this year resulted in increases of up to €600 in farmer payments and brought the total figure to €4,000 for many stock owners.

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The ANC scheme has a budget of €228m and is paid in two tranches, with the balancing payment coming later in the year. It is designed to support those farming lands with a bio-physical constraint such as limited soil drainage, hill and mountain ground or rocky land.

Mr O’Donnell said the targeting of €22m of the additional ANC scheme funds at livestock owners working severely disadvantaged ground was “a clear acknowledgment that this scheme is designed to compensate farmers on naturally constrained land.”

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