Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo Dara Calleary says moves must be made to ensure that Mayo farmers who qualify for the ANC (Areas of Natural Constraints) scheme are protected from any attempts to cut payments.  The Agriculture Minister has launched a review of the scheme, which proposes changes in qualification criteria from socio-economic factors to bio-physical features.  These changes are due to be brought in in 2018.

Deputy Calleary commented, “ANC payments are particularly important farmers in Mayo as many of them are working on disadvantaged and mountainous land.  In fact, more than 80% of Basic Payment Scheme funding goes towards ANC payments.  These farmers cannot be left behind and I am calling on Minister Creed to ensure that all current participants remain eligible for the new scheme.

“I met with IFA representatives earlier today, and they outlined the continuing challenges facing local farmers.  Falling prices, income volatility and reduced profit margins remain serious concerns for farmers in Mayo, and the threat of cuts to ANC payments is doing nothing to garner confidence within the sector.

“The ANC scheme (previously called the disadvantaged areas payment) is vitally important in helping maintain the continued use of agricultural lands and ensure farmers serve as custodians of the Irish countryside.

“Fianna Fáil wants to see ANC payments restored to 2007 levels and, in certain cases, increased to reflect the environmental lay of the land.  ANC farmers on the most severely constrained land – such as mountainous ground – should see an increased payment to reflect the natural handicap of their land.

“Minister Creed needs to recognise the importance of this funding and ensure that farmers, who currently qualify, are not penalised under any criteria changes”.