The new Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) Scheme which replaces the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme under the new Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020 has been opened by the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.

Under the 2015 Scheme, €195m will be paid to farmers supplying crucial aid to those farming in areas of natural constraint.

The Scheme is co-funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).

The Minister said he is extremely pleased to announce the opening of this very important Scheme for 2015 which is focused on ensuring the continued use of agricultural lands, the maintaining of the countryside, the protection of the environment and promotion of sustainable farming system.

The rates of aid under the ANC Scheme are as follows:

Area Designation Payment Rates(per Hectare) Payable Area
Mountain Type Land €109.71 First 10 hectares
€95.99 10 to 34 hectares
More Severely Handicapped Lowland €95.99 Up to 30 hectares
Less Severely Handicapped Lowland €82.27 Up to 30 hectares

The Scheme will continue in place until 2018 pending the new delineation of new Areas of Natural Constraints in accordance with the criteria provided for in Regulation (EC) No 1305/2013.

Under the provisions of this Regulation, the new delineation will be carried out using physical characteristics; the most relevant to Ireland are as follows;

  • Soil Moisture Balance (trafficability)
  • Soil drainage;
  • Slopes;
  • Soil rooting and Depth;
  • Soil Texture;
  • Organic matter.

The Minister repeated that the closing date for applications will be May 29, 2015 and urged all eligible farmers to take account of the Terms and Conditions of the new Scheme, a copy of which will be issued to all applicants, and ensure their applications were submitted correctly and on time.

The main features of the 2015 Areas of Natural Constraints Scheme are as follows;
  • It is necessary for applicants to tick the relevant box on the front of the Basic Payment scheme application form to claim the Areas of Natural Constraints Scheme.
  • All applications must be submitted by May 19 2015.
  • Minimum stocking density remains at 0.15 lu/forage hectare for a minimum retention period of seven consecutive months.
  • Applicants must also maintain an annual average of 0.15 lu/forage hectare calculated over the 12 months of the scheme year.
  • The 2011 minimum stocking density requirement of 0.3 lu/ha no longer exists.
  • Equines will continue to be eligible for establishing the minimum stocking density where they are from an equine breeding enterprise and are registered in a stud book approved by the Department with pedigree recorded.