15% ANC payment holdback ‘a blow to farmers’

The holdback of 15% of the 2019 Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) payments has been criticised by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

This will result in over €35 million not getting to farmers until December, IFA deputy president Richard Kennedy noted.

Speaking on the matter, Kennedy claimed: “Normally, 100% payment is made in September.

However, the Minister [for Agriculture Michael Creed] has decided to pay only 85% next month and hold the remaining 15% until December 1.

“The minister is hiding behind EU regulations. He could pay 100% to farmers and resolve any issues with the EU commission afterwards,” he said.

Kennedy said this is a blow to 100,000 farmers, who expected the full payment next month.

“Given the serious income crisis on livestock farms, I cannot understand why the minister would make this decision,” he said.

IFA rural development chairman Joe Brady said Minister Creed gave a commitment at the IFA AGM in January that there would be 100% in September.

“The minister has reneged on this commitment at a time when livestock farmers in particular are facing huge income pressures,” he said.

However, the IFA acknowledged the decision of the European Commission to sanction the higher advance of 70% under the 2019 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and a number of Rural Development Schemes.

Brady continued: “This is welcome news for farmers, who are dealing with a huge amount of uncertainty.

“Incomes are under significant pressure due to poor market returns and the spectre of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. It is important that the maximum number of farmers are paid in October,” Brady concluded.