Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme
901. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the requirement that donkeys can only make up a maximum of 50% of the stocking density requirement for payments under areas of natural constraint will be deferred in view of the fact that many farmers are unable to purchase extra stock due to marts remaining closed and or due to restrictions in relation to travel distance from home; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6625/20]
The changes to the stocking density rules relating to donkeys under the Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) scheme were brought in following consultation with the farming bodies and other relevant stakeholders. Applicants can now only use donkeys to fulfil 50% of their stocking requirements under the scheme.
Following the agreement of this change with the farm bodies, the change in the requirements for the 2020 scheme was signalled to all applicants in the 2019 Scheme terms and conditions. This was in order to give applicants a full year to adapt their stocking practices where required.
My Department has been engaging with a number of marts in relation to the facilitation of the sale and purchase of livestock and mechanisms have been put in place by a number of mart owners which fully respect HSE guidelines in relation to physical distancing while also supporting the orderly sale of animals necessary to support the essential business of farming. Direct farm-to-farm sales are also permitted.
It should be noted that while donkeys can now only be used to fulfil 50% of a farmers stocking requirements under the scheme, the remainder of the stocking requirement can be made up using cattle, sheep, goats, horses or deer, providing flexibility for applicants to use animals other than cattle to reflect the nature of their holding requirements.