Bud­get tops up ANC pay­ments by €250

Irish Examiner - Farming - - FRONT PAGE - Stephen Cado­gan

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.

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