‘ANC payment would need to double to get farmers back to 2008 income levels’

The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association is calling for the doubling of payments made under the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) Scheme.

INHFA spokesperson on CAP Colm O’Donnell outlined how farmers especially on the hills and in the disadvantaged areas have, over the years taken heavy cuts in direct support that must be readdressed.

The Programme for Government agreed between Fine Gael and a host of independents endeavours to ensure the level of payments and eligibility involved in the ANC scheme reflect the degree of disadvantage experienced by individual farmers, within the  remit of the Rural Development Programme.

It sets out to enhance ANC payments, increasing funding in this area by €25m in Budget 2018.

While welcoming the proposal for increased money for ANC Payments, O’Donnell stated ‘we now have an opportunity to ensure that payments made under this Scheme can be directed at land with the highest natural constraint’.

“In 2008 these farmers saw cuts to the DAS and the closing of the REPS which together accounted to over €10,000 for many farmers.

“These cuts have never been replaced despite the introduction of two agri- environmental schemes.

“While these two schemes have provided some income for those that can avail of them, they are at best 50% of what REPS provided to most farmers,” he said.

According to O’Donnell, an ANC payment in access of €6,000 in conjunction with GLAS would go some way towards replacing the money these farmers have lost. “This money won’t just support farmers will also help the wider rural economy,” he said.