Department sheds light on new ANC criteria

Amended criteria relating to the Areas of Natural Contraint (ANC) Scheme have been announced by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine ahead of the ANC Review – expected for release next week.

Worth €250 million in 2019, the scheme reform will be of key interest to the farmers who are recipients of ANC payments.

The framework for the new designation of the ANC scheme is set out in the Rural Development Regulation – EU Regulation 1305 of 2013 – according to the department.

This regulation sets out the new designation which must be based on the following biophysical criteria:
  • Low temperature;
  • Dryness;
  • Excess soil moisture;
  • Limited soil drainage;
  • Unfavourable texture and stoniness;
  • Shallow rooting depth;
  • Poor chemical properties;
  • Steep slope.

In tandem with this process member states are also required to undertake a fine-tuning process.

This process is required to identify areas where significant natural constraints were identified with reference to the biophysical criteria – but where objective criteria have indicated that these constraints have been overcome by investments, economic activity, or evidence of normal land productivity, or in which production methods or farming systems have offset the income loss or added costs.

Finally, member states may also identify areas for inclusion as Areas of Specific Constraint where “it is necessary for land management to be continued in order to conserve or improve the environment, to maintain the countryside, to preserve the tourist potential of the area, or to protect the coastline”.

The new criteria will mean that there will be a rejig of land determined to be ANC areas, meaning that new land will be classified under the scheme while other land will be delisted for eligibility.

For beneficiaries no longer eligible under the new designation, degressive phase out payments may be paid, set at: 80% of the 2007-2013 rates for 2019; and 20% for 2020.

The process of completing the designation is nearing an end with the view to shortly engaging with stakeholders and the Monitoring Committee of the Rural Development Programme, according to the department.

The implementation of the new designation requires a formal amendment of the RDP.

The department will also be communicating directly with relevant farmers shortly in relation to the 2019 ANC Scheme.