Hill farmers seek second ANC payment for weather affected farmers

The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) has called for a second payment to be made to farmers affected by the weather under the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme.

INHFA CAP Chairman, Colm O’Donnell, said there could be an under spend in excess of €100m in the annual Rural Development budget of €580m.

And, he stated that this money could go some way towards alleviating the hardship many farmers are experiencing due to ongoing weather difficulties.

“The most effective and easiest way to target this money is through a second ANC Payment.

Most of the farmers affected by the poor weather are in the ANC areas and as it’s not a new scheme, permission from Brussels to redirect existing unspent monies should be easily got.

O’Donnell said the ANC, formerly known as the Disadvantaged Area Payment, has a budget of €195m and any unspent money could be paid on a pro-rata basis.

“It would provide a significant financial boost in helping farmers pay for extra costs such as meal and fodder, while also covering losses incurred through harvesting and poorer livestock sales,” he said.

The key to this payment, he said, is to get it to farmers who are in real difficulty as quickly as possible and Minister Creed must deliver on this as it is within his remit.

Payment rates

Back on September 19, Minister Creed announced that ANC payments would start hitting farmers accounts.

Minister Creed announced almost 65,000 farmers would receive payments totalling €140m under both the ANC and Areas of Specific Constraint scheme.

This year the scheme has a total budget of €195m, but under the Programme for Government there are plans to increase the funding by €25m in Budget 18.

Source: Department of Agricultue
Source: Department of Agricultue

According to Department of Agriculture, the payment rates under the ANC Scheme range from €82.27-109.71/ha.

Under the scheme, land is classified under three categories which are: mountain type lands, severely handicapped lowland and less severely handicapped lowland farms.

Payments will be made in the order of mountain type lands first, more severely handicapped lowland second and then less severely handicapped lowland farms.

This method of payment is used to maximise the amount which can be paid to an applicant, it says.

Farmers on mountain type land will be paid €109.71/ha for the first 10 hectares farmed with a sheep, cattle or goat enterprise or a combination of all three, while the payment rate drops to €95.99/ha for the remaining land up to maximum payable area 34 hectares.

According to the Department, the payment rate for more severely handicapped lowland is €95.99/ha up to a maximum overall area of 30 hectares, while farmers on less severely handicapped lowland farms are paid €82.27/ha up to a maximum of 30 hectares.