The changes to the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) Scheme for 2019 have been welcomed by the Minister of State for Rural Affairs, Sean Canney.

Commenting on the recent changes, Canney said: “The ANC payments are vital to farming families across rural Ireland.

“Changes to the scheme required that all EU member states change their approach to designating eligible townlands for 2019.”

He outlined that the new approach is based on a range of bio-physical criteria set out at EU level.

“The vast majority of farmers across the country will be unaffected, as 98% of currently eligible land is still eligible and a further 2,000 townlands will now also be eligible for the first time.”

Funding for the scheme will also be significantly increased in 2019, in addition to the extra €25 million provided in 2018, a further €23 million will be added next year.

Farmers in townlands no longer eligible for the scheme will be able to avail of an appeals process and these farmers will be written to in the coming weeks.

Details of eligible and ineligible townlands are available here.

Discussions on the allocation of this money will take place with stakeholder groups and the new scheme will be clearly communicated to farmers in advance of the opening of the application process in 2019.

“ANC payments are hugely important to the functioning of the rural economy across the country.

“I welcome the increase in townlands able to avail of the scheme and the increased funding available in 2019 as it will benefit farm families all across rural Ireland and will provide a boost to the rural economy,” concluded Canney.