The Department of Agriculture has proposed front-loading all ANC payment rates for 2019, favouring more disadvantaged areas and smaller farms, the Irish Farmers Journal can reveal.
The highest rate for the mountain type grazing land, renamed Category 1, is to increase by €13/ha to €148/ha and apply to the first 12ha instead of 10ha previously.
More severely handicapped land, now called Category 2, sees the introduction of a higher rate of €111/ha (up €7/ha) on the first 10ha.
Less severely handicapped land (now Category 3), which includes newly eligible land, is also front-loaded with a new €93/ha rate (up €4.75/ha) on the first 8ha.
Rates on the remainder of eligible land are to stay unchanged. This brings the maximum payment to €4,240 in Category 1 (up €202), €3,190 in Category 2 (up €70) and €2,685.50 in Category 3 (up €38).
The proposed rates share next year’s €23m budget increase between new eligible farmers (€10m), increases to payment rates (€12m) and the phasing out of payments to farmers excluded from the scheme (€1m).
Farm organisations are to discuss the proposal at next week’s Rural Development Programme monitoring committee before it goes to Brussels.
The IFA has welcomed the proposal that would see all 100,000 farmers benefit, with hill chair Flor McCarthy highlighting the increase of over €800 in the maximum payment for mountain land over two years “at a time when the margins for the main enterprise in these areas, hill sheep, is particularly depressed”.