Splitting the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) payment in two will only add to the financial woes of farmers at this difficult time, according to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA).

Responding to the announcement that 15% of ANC payments will be held back until December, ICSA rural development chairman Tim Farrell said:

“It is incomprehensible how Minister [for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael] Creed would agree to withhold these badly needed funds from farmers.

The ICSA understands that changes in EU regulations have specified that payments under ANC will be made in two instalments this year.

“However, Minister Creed needs to go back to Brussels to tell them this is mindless bureaucracy leading to extra inefficiency in the payments section while farmers suffer.

“The ANC payment has always been made in one tranche and it worked fine,” the rural development chairman said.

The EU needs to do serious soul searching if it thinks that this pedantic nonsense reflects well on Brussels.

Farrell added that the ICSA will “fight very hard to prevent further hardship on already beleaguered farmers in less favourable areas”.

Yesterday, a spokesperson for Minister Creed outlined that the move was not down to a decision by the minister; rather it is due to changes in EU regulations specifying that payments under ANC will be paid in two instalments this year.