Calls for €100 million to be added to ANC Scheme

There have been calls for the funding to the 2020 Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) Scheme to be increased by €100 million due to Covid-19.

The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA) said that the money was needed to “compensate our primary producers of sucklers, store cattle, sheep and lambs”.

Colm O’Donnell. the association’s president, called on Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed to “act swiftly and decisively to help cash-flow on suckler cow and sheep farms throughout the country”.

O’Donnell argued that these farmers have “effectively had their ability to carry out their farm businesses sterilised by the restrictions imposed by the Government in Ireland’s battle with Covid-19”.

“The best and most efficient way to get money out quickly to primary producers is through the Pillar 2 ANC Scheme… This scheme is paid to farmers for costs incurred, income forgone and extra transaction costs associated with production systems such as sucklers and sheep,” O’Donnell said.

The INHFA president said that he had written to the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Janusz Wojciechowski, asking him to clarify his recent remarks regarding supports for the farmers across the EU.

The INHFA suggested to the commissioner that using the ANC Scheme is “the most effective and efficient way of looking after our primary producers of suckler beef and sheepmeat”.

These farmers are the first link in maintaining food security.

“The minister [Michael Creed] has a duty of care to ensure that our primary producers get financial support as quickly as possible to help with cash-flow,” O’Donnell argued.

Concluding, he said: “The minister must use all flexibilities available from the European Commission to pay this money up front and protect the first vital link in our highly-valued food supply chain.”