Fianna Fail identifies ANC payments as a Budget priority

Minister Creed has confirmed that the allocated funding levels available under the Area of Natural Constraints (ANC) scheme for the years 2016, 2015 and 2014 were €202m, €195m and €195m respectively.

A supplementary amount of €7m was secured for 2015, bring last year’s figure to €202m, while the 2014 and 2015 budgets were fully expended.

This information was contained in a written response from Michael Creed to Fianna Fail’s spokesperson on Agriculture Charlie McConalogue.

McConalogue pointed out that the restoration of ANC payments, formerly know as the Disadvantaged Area Payment, must be restored towards 2007 levels is a key priority for his party in Budget 2017.

“The ANC scheme is an important mechanism to help maintain the continued use of agricultural lands and ensure farmers serve as custodians of the Irish countryside,” he said.

Nearly 100,000 farmers are eligible for ANC payments, representing over 80% of total BPS recipients.

“Farmers should not have to wait until 2018 to see movement on ANC payments as set out in the Programme for Government,” he said.

The Fianna Fail spokesperson also said that given the recent severe bad weather which has devastated farmland country-wide, in particular tillage farmers, accompanied by acute low prices, market volatility and reduced profitability, farmers need immediate support.

“Additional financial resources are urgently required to ensure that farmers on the most disadvantaged lands are maintained and lands do not fall into disuse and disrepair.

“Increased ANC funding to areas with limited capacity will underpin a more regionally balanced and sustainable farming system across Ireland.

Other Fianna Fail farmer budget priorities include restoring social schemes such as Farm Assist, income tax averaging measures as put forward by farming organisations, emergency tillage funding, as well as a 100% national top up to the recent €11m European Union aid package.