Thursday, 3 June 2021
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
353. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will review the removal of ANC payments to some farmers in the north County Donegal in response to their ongoing protests that some nearby farms that continue to be in receipt of ANC payments are not in areas of worse natural constraint than those who have lost the payment. [30357/21]
In advance of payments under the 2019 Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) scheme, Ireland was required under EU Regulations to change the approach used to designating land as eligible for payment under the scheme. As such, the Department undertook a detailed technical process, which was agreed with the European Commission, to determine the eligibility of land for the ANC scheme in line with the requirements of the EU Regulations.
As part of this process, the Department also put in place an Independent Appeals Committee to facilitate the examination of appeals received from farmers regarding the outcome of the redesignation process. Each appeal was subject to a full review of underlying data by the Appeals Committee, including an assessment of any supporting documentation provided by the farmer in support of their appeal.
Where an appeal was deemed to be unsuccessful, farmers were further advised by the Department of their right to further appeal the decision of the Independent Appeals Committee to the Office of the Ombudsman.
While I acknowledge that some farmers were disappointed by the outcome of the redesignation process, I am satisfied that the Department put in place a robust process to determine the eligibility of each townland for the scheme in line with EU requirements.
Farmers whose land was determined to be no longer eligible following the redesignation process were eligible to receive a degressive payment where the applicant would suffer a financial loss on foot of the redesignation of ANC lands. This was set at a rate of 80% in 2019 and 40% in 2020 of the average rate payable per hectare under the 2019 scheme. I was pleased to confirm earlier this year that these degressive payments would also be paid in 2021 at a rate of €25 per qualifying hectare.