Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has today, Wednesday November 21st, revealed details of the 2019 Areas of Natural Constraints Scheme (ANC).
The scheme, which has been a vital support for farmers since its introduction in the 1970’s, is now required to change its approach in designating townlands eligible for supports under the scheme, as part of new EU regulations.
This new approach is based on identifying townlands that are considered to be constrained by reference to a range of biophysical criteria set out at EU level.
“The process of identifying eligible townlands under the new EU rules has been a protracted and complex process.” said Minister Creed.
“I am aware of the importance of this Scheme to farmers across the country, and so I am today announcing details of this process in order to provide assurance to farmers ahead of the application process next year.” He added.
For the vast majority of farmers, the townlands they farm which have been eligible up to now will remain eligible under the new Scheme.
In total, approximately 98% of currently eligible townlands will remain eligible under the new Scheme. In addition, over 2,000 townlands will now also have eligible land under the Scheme for the first time in 2019.
Minister Creed also confirmed the addition of a further €23m to the ANC scheme fund for 2019.
“Given the importance of the ANC scheme, I am now engaging in consultation with stakeholder groups in relation to finalising the design of the new ANC Scheme for 2019.” He said.
“In addition to the extra €25m provided for the Scheme in 2018, a further €23m will now be added to the Scheme in 2019 and the details of the allocation of this money will form part of discussions with stakeholder groups. The aim of this process is to ensure that a new Scheme is in place and clearly communicated to farmers in advance of the opening of the application process in 2019.” Minister Creed continued.
Appeals Process -
The Minister also outlined that there will be an appeals process in place to deal with queries from farmers in the small number of townlands that are no longer eligible under the new Scheme in 2019.
This appeals committee will be set up with an independent chairman and will ensure clarity for all farmers affected by changes to the Scheme.
“My Department will be writing to relevant farmers shortly to outline the position with the ANC Scheme for 2019, and to provide details of the independent appeals process.” Minister Creed confirmed.
“It is important that farmers are clearly informed in relation to the 2019 ANC Scheme and that there is an independent process of appeal for farmers who wish to appeal the outcome of this process.”
The finalisation of the updated scheme will be the subject of consultation with stakeholders, with increased payment rates to also be discussed.
For farmers who wish to confirm that the townlands in which they are farming are eligible for support under the 2019 Scheme, a full list of eligible townlands organised on a county basis is available here. A map showing the eligible areas for 2019 is also available on the Department website.