IFA Rural Development Chairman, Flor McCarthy has said the changes to the 2015 Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme are welcome. He said that the IFA had lobbied hard for the changes over the past year.
The scheme, worth €195m, is an important income support for farmers and must be a priority for Minister Coveney over the next number of years. Reversal of cuts to this vital scheme must be high on his agenda, McCarthy said.
Flor McCarthy pointed out that farmers in Areas of Natural Constraint must ensure that they tick the box on their 2015 BPS application to apply for payment.
The important changes to this year’s scheme, which IFA lobbied for, include:
- GLAS farmers who opt for the Wild Bird cover measure will not lose this area for ANC payment if they have less than 34ha in mountain areas or 30ha in severely and less handicapped areas.
- Top-up payment for 900 island farmers (whether residing or not) of €250/ha on first 20ha, €150/ha on next 14ha and €70/ha on next 6ha.
- Farmers excluded due to the 2011 requirement of 0.3lu/ha are again eligible for the 2015 scheme
- Equines are eligible as part of the stocking requirement if they are part of a breeding enterprise. Registered donkeys are also eligible.
- Farmers must farm the land for the full 12 months and have a minimum stocking level of 0.15lu/ha for 7 consecutive months and an average of 0.15 lu/ha for the full 12 months.
- Contract rearing of animals can be used in stocking rate criteria.
- Lower stocking rate can be used in commonage areas in line with the minimum/maximum figures.
- Young farmers setting up in 2015 can also avail of ANC payment if they have the land for the full 12 months.
- Farmers in registered partnerships can avail individually of separate payment up to and including maximum area of payment.
- The review of the Areas of Natural Constraint’s has been put back until 2018 when the new criteria will be used to define classified areas.