Ulster Farmers’ Union Hill Farming chairman, Ian Buchanan, has urged politicians to show their commitment to the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme as continuing uncertainty around the future of the scheme is hindering businesses decisions in hill areas.
He warned that there would be long term environmental and economic consequences, should the ANC be scrapped. These comments were made after the UFU met the AERA committee at Stormont.
“This uncertainty is causing real problems for farmers in severely disadvantaged areas when it comes to planning and making decisions for the future. Farming in these areas comes with distinct challenges, linked to landscape and climate, and these have a big impact on production costs. The ANC scheme recognises this and provides a support payment that helps to offset these natural constraints,” said Mr Buchanan. The hill farming chairman said that if DAERA decides to end the ANC scheme it would mean the immediate loss of £20 million a year to farmers in severely disadvantaged areas.