Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has said that donkeys will remain eligible for 50% of stocking density requirements under the areas of natural constraint (ANC) scheme next year.
He dismissed suggestions that there was a proposal to amend the existing donkey eligibility rules for the remainder of the current scheme.
His comments were made in response to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fáil TD Éamon Ó Cuív last week.
However, the Minister said that donkeys will continue to only account for 50% of the stocking density requirement for farmers participating in the scheme. Participants will continue to be required to use other eligible livestock to fulfil the other 50% requirement.
Prior to 2020, donkeys could account for 100% of the stocking density requirement.
Minister McConalogue said: “There is no proposal to amend the existing eligibility rules for the remainder of the current ANC scheme.
"The process of drawing up the successor scheme to the ANC under the new CAP is currently under way and details of the eligibility requirements for that scheme will be published once they are available.”
In his remarks, he outlined the terms and conditions of the 2021 ANC scheme, under which donkeys are eligible for inclusion in the calculation of the participating farmer’s stocking rate under the scheme.
He noted that inclusion under the scheme remains subject to compliance with certain requirements regarding the registration of the premises where the donkeys are kept with the Department in accordance with SI No 8 of 2012, Diseases of Animals Act 1966 (Registration of Horse Premises) Order 2012.
He also described the requirement for the landowner to demonstrate a valid passport for each donkey with the animal registered in the applicant's name.
Limit to inclusion
In line with the change introduced following the review of the designated areas ahead of the launch of the 2019 ANC scheme, Minister McConalogue continued: “Donkeys can only account for 50% of the stocking density requirement for a participant. Participants are required to use other eligible livestock to fulfil the other 50% requirement.”
He noted that this change was made following a consultation process, was supported by the relevant farming bodies and approved by the European Commission when Ireland's Rural Development Programme was amended.