Irish Natura And Hill Farmers Association Policies - Areas of Natural Constraint ANC Scheme (formerly the Disadvantage Area Scheme)

INHFA Policy on the Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme

The Area of Natural Constraints scheme (ANC) deals with areas of land situated on the mainland which are designated as disadvantaged this was previously know as the DAS and before that the Headage scheme.
This was based on socio-economic rules for measuring handicaps on the land.  EU auditors found that this resulted in unequal treatment of farmers, some were overpaid, and some were underpaid in relation to the constraints on the land they farmed.

This lead to the ANC Review, this seeks to change the unequal treatment of farmers by using a scientific assessment based on bio-physical criteria that the land must meet to qualify as constrained.  The bio-physical criteria comprise, among others, low temperature, dryness, excess soil moisture, limited soil drainage and poor chemical properties, low stocking rates, standard output per hectare, length of growing season, and farming systems

This review has now been delayed until 2018

Currently payment rates are based on three land types designations
1.        Mountain type land
2.        More severely handicapped (lowland)
3.        Less severely handicapped (lowland)

These payment rates were set by EU member states based on various criteria relating to income forgone and costs incurred.  Ireland also used the Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures based on Standard Output (SO). Those SO figures were
1.        Mountain type land €83.64/ha
2.        More severely handicapped (lowland) €748.45/ha
3.        Less severely handicapped (lowland) €966.78/ha
4.        Non-disadvantaged land €1063.78/ha

The So rate of mountain type land is artificially low due to the following reasons
a.        Environmental Restriction – destocking 50% min/max
b.        Difficult topography/terrain limiting land usage to extensive grazing with mountain sheep
c.        Legal structure governing unenclosed hill limits the land usage.
d.        The cumulative effect of multiple bio-physical constraints also limits usage.

The INHFA believes that the SO figure of Mountain sheep grazing (MSG) land is a clear indication of income forgone, and this is mainly due to the stocking rate constraints for undamaged habitats of 1 ewe/ha, as set by the Government.
In this years’ budget the Government announced and extra €25 m to be allocated to the ANC scheme.  Indications from the DAFM officials is that this money can be allocated as a flat rate top up to all eligible farmers or as a targeted payment.
We the INHFA are demanding that the Government choose the targeted payment option to address the anomaly in the SO figures above and we want this money to be target to the MSG.  We are proposing a 3-point plan

·1.        From loading of payments on the first 20 ha from 107/ha to 137/ha
·2.        Increasing the rate per ha from 107/ha to 137/ha
·3.        Increasing the ha limit from 30ha to 40 ha

We also believe that addressing the unequal treatment of farmers anomaly in the MSG SO figures is a justification of the retention of this category of land in the ANC review in 2018.

"Seeking Fairness Not Favouritism"

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