IFA Rural Development Chairman Joe Brady said the ANC increase for next year must be followed by a higher allocation to this vital farm income support scheme from €250m to €300m after 2020. The increase comes after the review of ANC areas, with €23m secured in Budget 2019.
Joe Brady said the increases are important and the proposal to allocate the highest payment on lands with the highest natural handicap is necessary as incomes are lower in these areas. The CAP Rural Development Monitoring Committee will discuss the proposals on Monday.
The new increased rates of payment follow on from improved payments under this year’s scheme with the allocation increasing by €50m in 2018 and 2019. Over 95,000 farmers benefit from ANC payments and this is likely to increase to about 98,000 in 2019.
The IFA Rural Development Chairman pointed out that the maximum payment for 2019 in Category 1 areas, formerly Mountain Grazing areas, will be €4,246 (on up to 34ha) an increase of €856 over two years; in Category 2, formerly called Most Severely Handicapped areas, will be €3,190 (on up to 30ha) an increase of €311 over two years; and in Category 3, formerly Less Severely Handicapped Areas, the maximum payment will €2,685 (on up to 30ha) an increase of €217 over two years.
The newly designated areas following the review will all be classified under Category 3. Following the review, 3.3m ha of eligible land is now classified under the ANC scheme which also includes off shore islands where a special designation exists. The maximum payment of €250/ha applies on the first 20ha.
In relation to areas excluded following the review, most farmers have now been written to by the Department of Agriculture. Where farmers appeal the Department will then provide the data by which their areas were excluded under the bio-physical criteria. IFA has also been told by the Department that areas that were never in can also appeal.
Joe Brady said that it was now important that the Appeals Body is set up without delay and an independent Chairman is appointed.