Extension must be used to ensure fairness in ANC scheme - Carthy
Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has called on Minster Creed to ensure that any extension to the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) Scheme review is used to consult with stakeholders following publication of maps, not merely extend the status quo.
“A €25m increase in funding for the ANC Scheme was agreed in the Programme for Government last year. This, along with the scheduled review of payments, created great expectations among farmers that increased fairness in payments would be forthcoming.
“While Sinn Féin supports the decision of Minister Creed to seek an extension on the review period, it is imperative that any extension granted by the European Commission is not used to merely just extend the status quo for an undetermined period of time. The Minister must make use of the time following publication of the new maps to consult widely with all stakeholders to ensure that new designations accurately reflect the disadvantages experienced by farmers in Ireland.
“I believe that the ANC review is an opportunity the Department must not pass up on to show commitment to farmers working on the most severely disadvantaged land. For too long now these farmers have been neglected by a system that only exacerbates the vast inequalities between farmers in Ireland.
“I commend the Sinn Féin Senators who have called for payments going forward to reflect the multiple bio-physical and specific constraints experienced by farmers who farm mountain type and other disadvantaged land and for those payments to be set a similar rates to the current offshore islands.
“Sinn Féin further believes that those who no longer qualify for payments under the new scheme should receive phased out payments and be compensated if necessary by other CAP schemes.
“The fact that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Senators voted against a Sinn F€in motion calling for fairness to be enshrined in the sceme makes it clear that we cannot simply assume that the Minister will make the necessary following review.
“I have written to the European Commission this week to enquire the status of Austria’s bid for extension and for clarity on the time frame on any such extension. This extension should not be seen as an extension of the status quo but as a time to consult widely in order to make the next necessary changes.”