New EU standards set to replace existing Areas of Natural Constraints measures

Eligibity for payments to be based on specified bio-physical criteria

Sligo News File.

Eligible areas of Natural Constraints must be in future classified using what Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has described as bio-physical criteria.

Martin Kenny, TD, Sinn Fein

Sinn Fein spokesman on Agriculture, Martin Kenny asked him about the stage at which it was decided the State could not meet its obligations regarding maps promised in mid-2017 in the review of the areas of natural constraint scheme.

Creed said that from 2018, eligible areas must be designated “using a set list of bio-physical criteria.

“In cases where a Member State does not introduce this new system for payment, the existing scheme, based on a range of socio-economic factors, remains in place but payments must phase out on a digressive basis.”

The bio-physical criteria set out in the legislation to underpin the new system of designation are, he said:

– Low temperature

– Dryness

– Excess soil moisture

– Limited soil drainage

– Unfavourable texture and stoniness

– Shallow rooting depth

– Poor chemical properties

– Steep slope.

EU Commissioner for Agriculture & Rural Development Hogan

“My Department has commenced work on this project, and relevant technical experts are currently working on sourcing and analysing the data in relation to the new criteria. Department officials have also been in contact with the Joint Research Centre (JRC) and DG Agri in the EU Commission in relation to technical issues arising. This analysis will identify areas deemed to be facing natural constraints, which will in parallel be subjected to a refinement process.”

He added that at recent EU meetings, “a proposal to introduce an optional extension of the 2018 deadline was introduced by another Member State. This proposal for an optional extension has not yet been agreed at EU level.”