ANC review must see ‘higher payments’ go to marginal land

The Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) review must “protect areas that are currently classified, and ensure the payment rates in 2019 relate to the natural handicap, with higher payments going to the most marginal land”, according to a committee chairman of a farm lobby group.

With the ANC review due next week, the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) rural development chairman, Joe Brady, reminded the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, of IFA’s stance on the ANC review.

Brady said the review, which has been worked on for some time based on new biophysical criteria, must guarantee that all farmers who depend on ANC payments continue to receive payments and that no farmer is at a loss.

75% of the country is classified as ANC covering wholly or part of every county. Over 95,000 low-income farmers benefit on land which has been deemed to be suffering from a natural handicap or disadvantage.

“The new criteria will replace what was deemed out of date by the Court of Auditors some years ago.

“They include wetness of soil, slopes, stoniness, soil texture and other limiting natural handicaps to agricultural production.

“There are currently four classifications of ANC – Off Shore Islands, Mountain Type Grazing, More Severely Handicapped and Less Severely Handicapped.

The IFA’s rural development chairman said the scheme will be worth €250 million next year – an increase of €50 million over the last two budgets.

“The payments of the ANC – along with other direct payments supports such as BPS and GLAS – represent a significant proportion of overall farm income in the areas that are classified as ANC.

“The minister must ensure that this situation does not change. In the forthcoming CAP 2020 talks, IFA will be seeking a further increase in the ANC allocation to bring it to €300 million per annum,” concluded Brady.