The Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme will not be reinstated in NI, Agriculture Minister Gordon Lyons has said.

“I have no plans to reintroduce an ANC measure. It is an old CAP measure that has little to offer in moving the industry forward,” the minister told MLAs on Monday.

The comments were made as Sinn Fein prepares to bring forward a bill at Stormont which aims to make it a legal requirement for the ANC scheme to be reinstated.

Under the scheme, which closed in 2017, payments were made to around 8,800 NI farmers in severely disadvantaged areas (SDA).

We need to look to the future rather than try to recreate the past

However, Minister Lyons pointed out that in March 2020 his DUP party colleague Edwin Poots also ruled out bringing back the scheme after MLAs passed a motion calling for its reintroduction.

“We need to look to the future rather than try to recreate the past. That is my position and that of my predecessor,” he said.

The minister maintained that he was told during engagement with “farmers and stakeholders” that bringing back the ANC scheme was not “the way forward”.

“Instead, we should focus our efforts on devising schemes and support measures that are for the good of all farmers,” Minister Lyons said.