South Down MLA Chris Hazzard has welcomed confirmation that DARD will commence Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) payments in March.
Mr Hazzard said: “On Tuesday at the DARD committee, officials confirmed that payments will commence in March with a target of 95% being paid by the end of the month. The scheme applies to Seriously Disadvantaged areas at a rate of £56.47 per hectare for the first 200ha, reduced to £42.35 (75%) for eligible land above 200ha.
“The officials also confirmed that approximately 10,000 farmers have applied for this scheme and a stocking density of 0.2 livestock unit per ha is being applied.
“The payment of ANC, formerly LFACA, is welcome news for the farming community, particularly in the aftermath of the inclement weather they have experienced recently and the many other challenges they are facing, including poor production prices.
Mr Hazzard added: “The fact that England and Wales have decided not to implement this scheme to support their farmers underlines the importance of having our own local Minister making decisions in the best interest of hard pressed farmers.
“As such, I commend Minister O Neill for making the decision to implement the ANC scheme which will give much needed support to hard pressed farming families”.