ANC appeals process sought ‘without delay’

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed has been urged to set up an appeals process without delay for farmers excluded from the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) Scheme following its recent review.

The call was made at a meeting organised by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) in Portlaoise last night (Thursday, November 22).

IFA deputy president Richard Kennedy, who chaired a national meeting of county chairs, Rural Development and Hill Farming Committee members, said the appeals process must deal with all areas including those that were never designated.

“It is clear that the process of ANC classification has thrown up some anomalies,” he said.

The focus for the minister should now be on the appointment of an independent chairman and getting the process moving as quickly as possible.

Kennedy said the ANC Scheme is a vital support to farmers in difficult land areas. He urged farmers who have been excluded or were not included to appeal their townland.

Earlier, an IFA delegation met with Department of Agriculture officials on the outcome of the review and the increase in ANC payment rates for the 2019 scheme.

This arises from the recent budget decision to increase the allocation by €23 million to a total of €250 million for next year.

In relation to the review, the department confirmed to the IFA that around 4,000 additional farmers will qualify for payment on an additional 200,000ha of land.

This land will be classified as Less Severely Handicapped area. The net effect of the review is that the amount of land designated as ANC will increase by around 3%.

IFA National Hill Farming chairman Flor McCarthy said the 32,000 farmers with mountain grazing area will again get the highest increase in payment for 2019, same as 2018.

Currently, the maximum payment in hill areas is €4,038 and this will continue to rise in 2019.

The IFA Hill Committee said it will continue to lobby for further increases for hill farmers in the next CAP reform from 2020 so the maximum payment continues to rise.