Fianna Fáil Agriculture Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue says farmers will be disappointed by the failure of the Government to increase ANC payments in Budget 2017.  Close to 100,000 farmers are eligible for ANC payments and will now be forced to wait until 2018 to see traction on ANC payment restoration.

Deputy McConalogue commented, “Restoring ANC payments to 2007 levels is a key Fianna Fáil policy.  The Areas of Natural Constraints scheme helps farmers ensure that agricultural land is maintained and sustained. Nearly 100,000 farmers are eligible for ANC payments and should not have to wait until 2018 to see traction on ANC payment restoration.

“It is also regrettable that no specific funding was ring-fenced to provide financial assistance to those who have seen their land and crop destroyed by severe weather. Tillage farmers will feel especially let down by the government in this regard.

“Fianna Fáil participated in a series of pre-budget discussions with the government to secure progress on a number of farming priorities. Our party succeeded in seeing the brutal cuts to farm assist reversed, as well as an increase in places for the Rural Social Scheme.

“The long heralded €25m new sheep scheme is welcome and will provide additional funding and support to sheep farmers across the country.

“I’m pleased to see the reopening of the Beef Data and Genomics Programme – something which we have been calling for for months.  However, the Minister must ensure that the level of red tape does not act as a deterrent for famers to apply for it.  We also want the Minister to use the midterm review of CAP to secure €200 per head payments on the first 20 cows under this scheme.

“I will be holding to Minister Creed to account to ensure that any underspend in the Rural Development Plan will not result in farmers losing out on these essential funds.  It is vital that the full allocation is used within the current RDP window to 2020”.