The summer months are typically the period where farmers contribute the most to their annual stocking rate for the purpose of the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC).

Each year, several thousand applicants miss out on ANC payments due to maintaining an insufficient stocking rate.

This is due to two stocking rate requirements eligible farmers must satisfy.

Firstly, applicants must satisfy a minimum stocking rate averaging equal to or greater than 0.15 livestock units per eligible forage hectare across the 12-month calendar year.

Applicants must also maintain a stocking rate equal or greater than 0.15LU/ha across a consecutive seven month period within the calendar year.

If stock are being maintained for the minimum period of seven months, then the stocking rate will need to equal or exceed an average of 0.26LU/ha during this period to achieve an average of 0.15LU/ha across the full year.

The exception to this rule is where a lower stocking rate is commanded under an agri-environmental scheme or commonage framework plan.

There have been some questions received in recent weeks regarding animal values and in particular regarding the eligibility of horses and donkeys for inclusion, with some farmers missing out in 2020 due to changes in animal eligibility.

Animal values

Table 1 details the livestock unit values for eligible animals.

It should be noted that since 2020, donkeys will no longer be allowed to satisfy 100% of stocking rate requirements and will be capped at fulfilling a maximum of 50% for 2021.

This means a change for in the region of 900 applicants who used donkeys to satisfy ANC stocking rates, with reports indicating some missed out due to a failure to get alternative stock on hand in sufficient time.

All farms where donkeys or horses are retained must be registered with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, in accordance with S.I. No. 8 of 2012, Diseases of Animals Act 1966 (Registration of Horse Premises) Order 2012.

With regard to horses, they are deemed to be eligible to satisfy ANC requirements if they are held on an equine breeding enterprise.

This is defined in the terms and conditions as a holding which has bred a foal in either 2019 or 2020 from a mare registered on the holding in 2020. The mare must be registered in a stud book approved by the Department with pedigree recorded (sire and dam).