At a meeting organised by IFA in Portlaoise last night to discuss the ANC review, a strong call was made for the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to set up the appeals process without delay to deal with areas that have been taken out, and areas which are still excluded.
IFA Deputy President Richard Kennedy, who chaired the national meeting of County Chairs, Rural Development and Hill Farming Committee members from all counties, said the clear message is that the appeals process must deal with all areas including those that were never designated.
“It is clear that the process of ANC classification has thrown up some anomalies. The focus for the Minister should now be on the appointment of an Independent Chairman and getting the process moving as quickly as possible,” he said.
Earlier, an IFA delegation met with Dept. of Agriculture officials on the outcome of the Review and the increase in ANC payment rates for the 2019 Scheme. This arises from the recent Budget decision to increase the allocation by €23m to a total of €250m for next year.
The IFA Rural Development Chairman Joe Brady told the Department that the increase for next year must reflect the natural hardship, under the existing classifications. In relation to the review, the Dept. of Agriculture confirmed to IFA that around 4,000 additional farmers will qualify for payment on an additional 200,000ha of land. This land will be classified as Less Severely Handicapped area. The net effect of the Review is that the amount of land designated as ANC will increase by around 3%.
At the same meeting, IFA National Hill Farming Chairman Flor McCarthy said the 32,000 farmers with mountain grazing area will again get the highest increase in payment for 2019 as they did in 2018. This is a welcome development as mountain type land is marginal and has severe limitations for agricultural production. Currently the maximum payment in hill areas is €4,038 and this will continue to rise in 2019.
The IFA Hill Committee will continue to lobby for further increases for hill farmers in the next CAP reform from 2020 so the maximum payment continues to rise. IFA is proposing that the total allocation for ANCs in the next Rural Development programme is increased to €300m per annum.
Concluding, Richard Kennedy said the ANC Scheme is a vital support to farmers in difficult land areas. He urged farmers who have been excluded or were not included to appeal their townland.