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Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) Payments are a lifeline to many hill farmers - McMullan

25 March, 2016 - by Oliver McMullan

Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesperson Oliver McMullan MLA has welcomed the announcement from Minister Michelle O’Neill that her department has commenced the processing of Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) payments with a 95% target by the end of March.

 Mr McMullan said,

 “With the continuing market volatility facing all sectors, not least the beef and sheep sector, the ANC payment or ‘hill-money’ of £56.47 per hectare has become a lifeline to many of our farmers. These producers in particular are curtailed by farming less favourable land and face greater costs and expense.

 “Farmers will therefore be relieved that the Minister has committed to ensuring that 95% of these payments will be in their bank accounts by the end of March.

 “During the previous CAP Reform negotiations in 2014, Michelle O’Neill and Sinn Féin fought hard to ensure that ANC payments continued.

 “I would strongly encourage farmers and their representatives to therefore respond to the ANC consultation which the Minister launched last month and which sets out some future options for this.

 “Minister O’Neill and DARD staff are to be commended for ensuring timely processing of both the 2015 ANC and Basic Payment subsidies, achieving targets well ahead of other EU regions.

“With the Minister’s intention to provide for early payments this year by October, it’s essential that farmers complete their 2016 applications online which is faster, safer and more error-proof than the traditional method

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