Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen has announced that she will provide £8million to fund a one-year transitional scheme to support farmers in Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC).
The ANC scheme provides payments to eligible farmers to cover additional costs and lost income due to constraints on agricultural production in severely disadvantaged areas (SDA).
“I recognise that farming in the SDA comes with distinct challenges and that is why I have decided to continue to help support these farmers by extending the ANC scheme for another year. This scheme will put £8million into the farmers’ pockets, in addition to the support they receive from Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Pillar I funding,” Miss McIlveen explained.
“Farmers will be able to apply to the 2018 ANC scheme on their 2017 Single Application Form. This will be a rollover of the current scheme and will consist of a one year payment to farmers in SDA.
“Given the pressures on both the Department’s and Executive’s budget, it has been a challenge to find ways of funding this scheme. I had already announced that I would not reduce farmers’ Pillar 1 payments to fund ANC support, so budgetary pressures were a significant factor in making this decision, as well as delivering value for money.
“Whilst this will be the last ANC support scheme, the SDA region will continue to benefit from the ongoing redistribution of Pillar I funding.”
Payments from the scheme, which requires Executive approval, will be made in 2018.
“The Rural Development Programme Monitoring Committee will also be consulted on this proposal with final approval for the scheme required from the EU Commission,” the Minister continued.
She confirmed that as there are no plans for an ANC Scheme beyond 2018 that work on ANC re-designation will also cease.