Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has revealed that a “large number” of farmers not yet paid under the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme will not receive the payment.

In response to a parliamentary question from Jackie Cahill TD, Minister Creed said that of the applications still outstanding, a large number will not meet the eligibility requirements and therefore will not become eligible for payment.

A total of 103,763 applications were received under the 2015 ANC scheme. To date, 96,002 applications have been paid, leaving 7,761 outstanding.

Stocking rates are likely to be one of the key reasons why applications were rejected. The minister did not mention whether money would remain unspent as a result of the failed applications or how it could be used.

Co Galway has the highest number of payments with 11,418 farmers having been paid so far, amounting to €23.9m.

Review of eligibility criteria started

Under EU rules, all states must change ANC eligibility rules from 2018.

In a separate parliamentary question, Minister Creed said “under the new system of designation, eligible areas will have to be designated on the basis of biophysical criteria such as temperature, dryness, soil drainage, moisture and stoniness, and slope of the terrain.”

Under current legislation, eligible land under the scheme is designated by reference to criteria such as stocking density, family farm income, population density and the percentage of the working population engaged in agriculture.

Minister Creed said that the Department of Agriculture is currently working on analysing the data in relation to the new criteria.

“Until this process is complete, it is not possible to predict what the outcome will be,” he said.

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Minister Creed says no, no, no