Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has called for clarity on the future of Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) payments.
The vice chair of the Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs committee said:
“The current ANC scheme, which has been important in supporting productivity in severely disadvantaged areas, is due to end in March 2017.
“As yet we don’t know if there will be a continuation of ANC payments.
“Farmers in these areas will face a loss of income if there is no replacement for the current ANC scheme.
“In response to the DAERA consultation earlier this year, the Minister ruled out either reducing the Basic Payment Scheme to fund an ANC Scheme or funding it through the Rural Development Programme.
“In response to my recent question she reiterated this view and stated she was still considering other options but, given the pressures on both the Department’s and the Executive’s budget, providing any additional support will be challenging.
“The lack of a decision on the future of the ANC scheme or its replacement has resulted in great uncertainty for farmers.
“Given that farmers are already facing into an uncertain future as a result of the British government’s plan to pull us out of the European Union clarity on the situation is needed and soon.
“The north voted to remain as part of the EU and that vote must be respected.”