Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) payments in 2017 are ahead of where they were this time last year, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has confirmed.

In response to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fail TD Eamon O Cuiv, Minister Creed outlined that 2017 ANC payments commenced on September 19.

To date over €187 million has been paid to some 87,000 farmers, he added. These payments are continuing on a rolling basis, as more farmers satisfy eligibility and stocking rate requirements, the minister explained.

Deputy O Cuiv asked Minister Creed if there will be a public consultation in the allocation of the additional funding for the ANC scheme in 2018.

Commenting on the matter, the minister said: “The ANC scheme is a very important source of financial support for farmers across the country, paying over €200 million each year to over 95,000 farmers.

“In view of this, the Programme for a Partnership Government included a commitment for a €25 million increase in funding for the scheme in 2018. I am happy to confirm that this commitment was delivered in the recent budget.

There are a number of options in relation to how this additional €25 million can be allocated in 2018. These options are currently being examined, with a view to being in place for payment under the 2018 scheme.

“As part of this process, I have had some discussions with farm bodies in relation to their views on the allocation of this additional funding. This process will continue as the increased funding is allocated to the 2018 scheme.

“Changes to payments under the scheme will also require formal agreement with the EU Commission via a formal amendment of the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020,” Minister Creed concluded.