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Agriculture and rural development

Natural or other area-specific constraints

Natural or other area-specific constraints explained

Areas with natural or other area-specific constraints (ANCs) are those that are more difficult to effectively farm due to specific problems caused by natural conditions. 

The natural or other-specific constraints (ANC) payment is:

  • a voluntary type of intervention for rural development;
  • paid annually per hectare of agricultural area;
  • based on the calculation of differences in income and costs between constrained and non-constrained areas.

For the CAP 2023-27, ANC payments will partially contribute (weighting factor of 50%) to the European agricultural fund for rural development (EAFRD) environmental and climate ring-fencing.

Aims of ANCs

The purpose of ANC payments is to compensate farmers fully or partially for disadvantages to which agricultural production is exposed due to natural or other specific constraints in their area of activity.

Such compensation primarily helps to ensure fair income and allow farmers to continue agricultural land management in order to prevent land abandonment.

Criteria for ANCs

To qualify for ANC payments, the land in question has to fall under one of the following three categories established by Article 32 of Regulation (EU) 1305/2013:

  • mountain areas, which are designated due to their altitude or the steepness of their slopes;
  • areas facing significant natural constraints, which are based on eight biophysical criteria, as well as a process known as ‘fine-tuning’;
  • other areas affected by specific constraints, which are limited to 10% of the EU country's total area and are defined by the EU country itself, must also undertake a ‘fine-tuning’ exercise.

Mountain areas

To be classified as mountain ANCs, farmland must:

  • be at an altitude where agriculture is difficult;
  • have steep slopes that prevent the use of standard farming equipment;
  • be located north of the 62nd parallel.

Areas facing significant natural constraints

Areas facing significant natural constraints are areas that experience specific conditions that make farming difficult. For land to qualify as being affected by these constraints, it must be negatively impacted by one of the following conditions:

  • low temperature;
  • dryness;
  • excess soil moisture;
  • limited soil drainage;
  • unfavourable texture and stoniness;
  • shallow rooting depths;
  • poor chemical properties;
  • steep slopes.

These areas are also subject to a process called ‘fine-tuning’. This checks whether there have been significant improvements to the land, meaning that farming is not negatively impacted by the conditions. For example, land with excess soil moisture that has now been artificially drained.

Areas affected by specific constraints

Areas facing specific constraints are made up of land that is negatively impacted by other factors. These are areas where there is a significant risk that farming may cease and where it is important to maintain an active farming community in order to:

  • conserve or improve the environment;
  • maintain the countryside;
  • preserve the tourist potential of the area;
  • protect the coastline.

Also subject to the ‘fine-tuning’ process, these areas are defined by the EU countries themselves and they may not exceed 10% of the total area of the country.


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