Budget tops up ANC payments by €250
This week’s Budget delivered an extra €250 on average for each of the 95,000 farmers getting Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) payments.
They will get the increased payments next year, due to a €25 million ANC funding increase, which had been promised in the Programme for Government after the 2016 election.
ANC payments, 53% funded by the EU, with 47% coming from the Irish Government, had been cut by €50m in 2009, when they were known as disadvantaged area payments. The increase is part of €64m extra for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine announced by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe. This includes an additional €20m for the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation grant scheme (TAMS). Also included is €25m to provide for a Brexit response loan scheme for farmers, fishermen and food businesses, to be developed in 2018 in co-operation with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland and others. A similar €150m agriculture cashflow loan scheme has already been nearly completely taken up by farmers over the past year. A €300m low-cost loan fund, also EU-supported, will open to SMEs (including agri-food businesses but not primary agriculture and fishermen). This will make funding available at 4% interest rate to assist with short-term working capital needs. “Ensuring that our food exporters, particularly our SME’s are competitive from a cost perspective, in the international market place, is a basic element of how we will meet the challenges posed by Brexit,“said Agriculture Minister Michael Creed. “This scheme will provide affordable, flexible financing to Irish businesses impacted by Brexit. Given the agri-food sector’s unique exposure to the UK market, my Department’s funding for this scheme ensures that at least 40% of the fund will be available to food businesses.” Delivered by the SBCI through commercial lenders, it is open to all trading SMEs and large firms employing less than 500. The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation will contribute €14m of the necessary funding, with €9m from the Agri-
Minister Michael Creed: €64m extra for his department.