€25m increase to ANC given the ‘go ahead’ from Brussels

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Rural Development Chair Joe Brady has said he has received confirmation from the European Commission that the promised €25 million increase in Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) payments can be made later this year.

Speaking after a meeting in Brussels last Friday, Brady said that the increase, promised in the programme for government, can be made later this year as part of an amendment to the Rural Development Programme (RDP).

The 2016 programme for government states: “We will enhance ANC payments, increasing funding in this area by €25 million in Budget 2018″.

The €25 million annual increase represents an average €5 boost for each of the five million hectares currently eligible for the scheme.

“With the possible deferral of the ANC review until 2019 as a result of the recent Farm Council meeting, the commitment to increase payments in 2018 must still be fully honoured by the government,” said Brady.

Brady is said to have emphasised to the commission the importance of the ANC scheme to farmers on poorer land types. He also commented on how payment rates should reflect the natural handicap of the land.

Commenting on the IFA’s ongoing campaign to secure extra funding for ANC, Brady said that any deferral of the review until 2019 must not deflect from the key messages of the campaign, which include:

  • Cuts imposed in 2009 have to be fully restored to bring the overall allocation to €250 million;
  • All areas currently designated as ANC must be protected in the review;
  • Payments rates need to increase and reflect the natural handicap of the land.

The IFA says that funding for the ANC scheme will be a key element of its 2018 pre-budget submission.