INHFA: 'We must address imbalance in ANC scheme'
INHFA is calling for "a fair and transparent review" of the ANC (Areas of Natural Constraints) scheme and insisted that farmers with the highest level of constraint must be compensated appropriately when setting rates per hectare.
It is understood that the 2019 ANC scheme will cost an additional €9m because of the increased area covered by the scheme.
Close to 2,000 new townlands have been designated as ANCs under the recent review, with 700 townlands being taken out of the scheme. The removals will impact around 760 farmers.
INHFA president Colm O'Donnell told the Farming Independent that it plans to hold a national rally on Friday, December 7 to call for a fairer allocation of ANC payments to farmers.
"The current methodology in setting the level of compensation based on Standard Output (SO) per hectare doesn't reflect fairly the severity of areas with multiple biophysical constraints," Mr O'Donnell said.
"This review of the ANC was in part called for because of the unequal treatment of some farmers in receipt of compensatory payments in the scheme and the review must now finally address this imbalance. Our position is to retain the Mountain Grazing area (MSG) as the Priority 1 category with meaningful targeting that reflects the severity of the multiple constraints experienced in these areas."
Meanwhile, ICMSA deputy president Lorcan McCabe called for the next stages of the implementation process of the ANC review to be carried out as soon as possible and farmers informed of their individual position.
"The Department confirmed that notifications will be sent this week to all farmers who were in the ANC in 2018 and who are also included in 2019…Those farmers who have been included for the first time and those excluded will also be notified of their status in the coming week, along with the appeals process which is hugely important for these farmers," Mr McCabe said.
The Department has confirmed to ICMSA that the ANC appeals process will be open to all farmers whether their land was previously designated or not.
"Farmers who wish to appeal need to know their bio-physical criteria results quickly, so they can determine if an appeal is likely to succeed. It is essential that the Department provide farmers with the required information and that the appeals process is fair and reasonable," Mr McCabe said.
Close to 100,000 farmers qualify for the ANC scheme, with total payments for 2019 due to increase to €250 million.
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