The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association launched their ANC campaign in Letterkenny on Friday 3rd February. The launch which was attended by over 600 farmers heard how the ANC review should ensure that future payments reflect the land constraint.
Colm O’Donnell INHFA CAP Chair expressed concern that farmers whose lands meet the qualifying bio-physical criteria under the proposed review could lose out under a flawed interpretation of the specific constraint.
This flawed proposal could see land with no bio-physical constraint brought back into the scheme under a 10% specific constraint. This specific constraint which is presently applied correctly to the off-shore islands could, if incorrectly applied, use up a substantial part of the ANC budget and negatively affect farmers with actual land constraints.
O’Donnell stated that “a farmer needed sheep in order to qualify for the Sheep Welfare Scheme and cattle in order to qualify for the Beef Data & Genomics Program, so it should be a basic requirement, that land qualifying for the Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme, should have a bio-physical constraint”
Under the INHFA’s 3 point plan which would see payments frontloaded on the first 20ha, with an increase in the rate per hectare and increasing the amount
of eligible hectares he stated “how farmers could see an average payment for ANC lands double from €2000 to €4000”
O’Donnell also outlined how farmers at the meeting expressed concern that the current category of mountain type land could be scrapped as part of the
review. This land he added “has possibly the highest level of constraint which is why we are calling for an uplands specific category to be created with a
payment model similar to that on the off-shore islands”
With the present review he concluded “there is the possibility that some areas could lose out and if this happens then they can receive a degressive ANC
payment starting at 80% of their present payment reducing over a defined period of time down to €25/ha by 2020”