IFA Rural Development Chairman Joe Brady has urged the Department of Agriculture to assemble all relevant data prior to the publication of new ANC maps as it is important that all facts are taken into account prior to a submission to the EU Commission.
IFA’s next ANC campaign meeting will be held in the Seven Oaks Hotel in Carlow tonight (Friday, March 3rd). Almost 11,000 farmers in the south Leinster area qualify for ANC payments.
At a meeting with the Department of Agriculture in Portlaoise this week, Joe Brady pointed out that there are sufficient flexibilities in place at EU level in the designation of ANCs to protect areas that are already classified in the upcoming review. It is important to make a case based on local conditions to ensure that areas retain their status and continue to qualify for payments.
The Department of Agriculture told the IFA that all the biophysical criteria will be used, but the main one will be soil moisture. However, other important criteria will be slopes, areas subject to flooding using OPW flood maps, areas subject to coastal erosion, soil depth and designated SAC and SPA areas. IFA urged the Department to seek flexibility around the rigid 60% DED rule where if the natural handicap is less than this figure, then the whole DED does not lose out.
Joe Brady said that IFA impressed on the Department to make a case for areas to qualify under the new criteria by also classifying them based on agricultural output, stocking rate, permanent grassland, and farming systems, as well as areas with other specific constraints which can be up to 10% of the area of Ireland.
At the same meeting, IFA National Hill Committee Chairman Pat Dunne urged that the payment rates in the new scheme reflect the natural handicap and this will ensure that the highest mainland payment will be on hills. The offshore island payment of €250/ha sets the bar as this is the highest possible payment which recognises the extreme difficulty of farming on offshore islands. Pat Dunne said that front-loading of payments of the first 20ha is necessary with an overall maximum of €6,000 being the target for hill farmers.
The Department of Agriculture indicated to IFA that maps will be produced in mid-year. After that, a submission will be made to the EU which will also include the new payment rates and terms and conditions for implementation for 2018. IFA has sought a Budget of €250m for the new scheme.
IFA will hold further ANC meetings in Tralee, Co Kerry on Monday, March 13th and in Bantry, Cork on Monday, March 20th.