The upcoming review of the Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme (ANC) and the ongoing hold-up in the payout of the Basic Payment were two of the main issues discussed by an INHFA delegation at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture.
The INHFA team which was led by vice Chair Henry O Donnell outlined how the ANC Review provides the opportunity to ensure future payments reflects the land constraint. “This scheme who’s budget will increase to €220m by 2018, can deliver a substantially higher payment for farmers on Hill and other high nature value farmland which will help avoid the threat of land abondment,” said O Donnell.

The annual hold up in the payout of Basic Payment and ANC monies was discussed at length in a wider conversation that covered inspections and DAFM Appeals. In his opening address O Donnell questioned why a small mapping anomaly often holds up all of the farmers payments.Deputy Deering Chair of the Oireachtas Committee did point out that the DAFM on advice from Brussels, were not allowed pay out any monies if there were anomalies. Senator Conway Walsh recommended that the committee get a legal opinion on this.

On the issue of inspections and appeals, concerns raised by the INHFA delegation regarding fair procedures for farmers was accepted by the committee.
Other issues addressed included a proposal to honour what was in the Program for Government and ensure that the Basic Payment for any farmer under 40 is brought up to the national average. Ensuring farmers on private Hill and on high nature value farmland get access to GLAS was also addressed.
Concerns around land designations regarding costs incurred by farmers and a separate payment in recognition of the burden imposed by these designations was also discussed.