THE current review of the Areas of Natural Constraints (ANCs), formerly Disadvantaged Areas, which is due to be implemented in 2019 must be published immediately by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine so that farmers know exactly where they stand according to Lorcan McCabe, deputy president of ICMSA.
He also said that an appeals procedure would have to be put in place so that farmers unhappy with the outcome can appeal the decision: ‘It is now just two months from the start of 2019 and there are still no guidance maps published – or any guidance at all – as to the possible inclusion or exclusion of a farm. This leaves precious little time for a farmer to appeal before the ANC application has to be submitted by May 2019.
‘The ANC payment is a hugely important part of farm income and it is just unacceptable that farmers are just left in the dark as to their status for 2019. Farmers need to be told immediately where they stand so that they can plan their business accordingly for 2019 and make an appeal if required, the Department should make a decision on the appeal well in advance of the closing date for applications for BPS in May 2019.
‘It’s worth repeating that, for those farmers who will be excluded under the review, this is a huge issue for them and would represent a substantial cut in their farm income, so they need to know now what is happening,’ he said.
‘Everywhere farmers look they see huge uncertainties in 2019, whether it’s Brexit, climate emissions or the CAP post-2020 review. The ANC review is another big uncertainty for farmers and the Department need to move immediately to reassure farmers of their ANC status and then introduce an independent appeals procedure with clear guidelines.’