Sinn Féin MLA Declan McAleer has called for the restoration of the areas of natural constraints scheme.
The West Tyrone MLA was speaking after receiving a huge response to his consultation on his Areas of Natural Constraint Private Members Bill.
Declan McAleer said:
“The ANC scheme was hugely important in supporting productivity in severely disadvantaged areas, in some cases being a major proportion of the farm income.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a detrimental impact on farmers with the closure of marts, a rise in input costs and a drop in farmgate prices. The withdrawal of the ANC payment alongside the chaos of Brexit has compounded their difficulties.
“I will be bring a Private Members Bill to the Assembly calling for the restoration of the ANC payments, as part of this I conducted a public consultation ended when received over 1000 responses.
“The responses showed a clear and unequivocal support for the Bill with most respondents in favour of the ANC payment being restored.
“The Bill has received support from the main farming organisations in the north, the UFU, NIAPA, the NI Farm Group and Farmers for Action.
“Fermanagh-Omagh District Council also sent a formal letter of support which was very welcome and important as this district encompasses a huge amount of severely disadvantaged land, taking in a large part of the Sperrins and county Fermanagh which is 92% ANC designated land.
“We are currently collating a summary of the responses into a consultation report and intend to lodge this with the Speaker’s office next week, in order to get the Bill ready to introduce to the Assembly.
“At this stage it is difficult to provide precise dates for the scrutiny stages but I will work at pace with my party colleagues, the AERA committee, other parties, stakeholders, the Bills office and the Assembly to get this legislation through before the end of this mandate.”