Reacting to the Budget announcement by Minister Paschal Donohoe today, IFA President Joe Healy said the funding provided for the agri-food sector will fall short of what will be needed as Ireland faces an agricultural Armageddon.
“While the €110m committed to the Dept of Agriculture for next year is a step forward, much more will be needed now as farmers are already suffering huge losses due to Brexit uncertainty,” he said.
“Beef farmers have incurred huge losses since May 12th when the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) was introduced and these have to be covered,” he said.
“Now that the Irish Government has set out its plans, we need the EU Commission to put its Brexit funding cards on the table,” he said.
As regards the general allocation to the Department, more clarity is needed regarding the implications for certain farm schemes such as the BEEP pilot scheme for suckler farmers introduced last year. We also need clarity on the Minister for Agriculture’s plans for the €20m underspend in the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure.
The allocation of €3m for pilot agri-environmental schemes is welcome, but it’s a very modest allocation. Environmental schemes are an area where farmers can make a significant positive contribution to climate action. The increase in the NPWS Farm Plan funding to €1m is also welcome and a step in the right direction.
Joe Healy also acknowledged the €150 increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit in closing the gap that exists between the self-employed and those in the PAYE sector, but said farmers will be disappointed it has not reached the full €1,650 as committed in the programme for Government.
Joe Healy said the carbon tax will disproportionately affect farmers and rural dwellers as they don’t have an alternative. “We expect a significant amount of the funding to be ringfenced for agri-environmental schemes, renewable initiatives that have a farmer and community focus,” he said.
He said it was very disappointing that there we no reference to the Fair Deal Scheme. The Government needed to provide assurances that the changes agreed by the Cabinet are provided for.
The IFA Farm Business Chairman Martin Stapleton said the increase in the stamp duty rate would hit farmers who were trying to expand their holdings.
“IFA has been seeking to have a separate stamp duty rate for farm transfer. Not introducing this was a missed opportunity by the Minister to show a better understanding of agriculture,” he said.
“It is even more critical that consanguinity relief for relatives is extended, but this will not cover all cases,” he said.
“The extension of restructuring relief is important for those farmers who are trying to consolidate their holdings,” he said.
IFA Rural Development Chairman Joe Brady has welcomed the increase of €12.1m in TAMS to bring the overall allocation to €82m.
However, he expressed concern that the overall RDP Budget of €395m will not be spent unless Minister Creed takes urgent action.