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IFA Animal Health Chairman Pat Farrell has welcomed the Department of Agriculture’s understanding of farmers’ concerns in the new TB testing protocols in level 5.

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Sales of protected urea have increased significantly this year. From January to June, just under 40,000 tonnes were sold, compared to 21,000 in 2019.

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Reacting to the publication of an EU strategy to reduce methane emissions IFA National Environment Chairman, Paul O’Brien said that it was correct that the EU would set up an expert group, in the first half of 2021, to analyse the life cycle of methane emissions.

“The science in this area is evolving. Research by Oxford University led by Myles Allen has demonstrated how the current methodology used to calculate methane emissions is not appropriate. This needs to be reflected in how inventories are developed,” he said.

“I think the emphasis must be on reducing emissions per animal rather than on herd reduction. The commitment to develop a carbon navigator template to calculate carbon emissions and removals, acknowledges the carbon farmers are removing from the atmosphere, not just the emissions,” he said.

“Farmers in the EU are getting no credit for the carbon they currently sequester through their pasture, crops and hedgerows,” he said.

The strategy outlines a commitment by the Commission to ensure better data collection and best practice sharing for innovative methane-reducing technologies, animal diets, and breeding management.

“Farmers are already doing a lot, and here in Ireland, the sector has a roadmap set out as part of the Teagasc MAC Curve. With the right supports and incentives, farmers can continue to play our part in the European and national effort by improving the carbon efficiency of our output,” he said.

The strategy also commits to delivering opportunities to convert non-recyclable organic human and agricultural waste to biogas, bio-materials and bio-chemicals.

“IFA has been seeking policy changes from our Government to support farmers to develop on-farm or community-led projects. We have seen the benefits to farmers and rural communities in Germany as well as internationally in the US and New Zealand from the development of biogas plants. These types of projects have a central part to play in Ireland’s decarbonisation plan,” said the IFA Environment Chairman.

“It is very frustrating to see the widespread scientific acknowledgement of the need to change the current calculation system, and we hope that the findings of this expert group are reflected in EU policy. We will monitor and contribute to the implementation of this strategy closely though our Brussels office,” he said.

IFA Organic Project Team Chairman Nigel Renaghan has welcomed the Budget increase to the Organic Farm Scheme (OFS), but he warned that previous mistakes cannot be repeated in relation to any re-opening of the scheme.

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IFA Budget 2021 report available here.

Reacting to the Budget, IFA President Tim Cullinan acknowledged the renewal of essential tax reliefs and the equalisation of the self-employed tax credit with the PAYE credit and the continued funding of farm schemes.

“We fully accept the challenges facing the State from COVID-19, but we have a further emergency coming in the form of Brexit,” he said.

This Budget needed to give more acknowledge to the imminent threat of Brexit. In 2019 €110m was set aside for a Brexit reserve. We need immediate clarity on the status of this fund and what precisely has been set aside for Brexit. We cannot rely on the EU contingency fund alone,” he said.


“One announcement that could also be significant is funding to establish a new Food Ombudsman. However, this must cover the entire food chain and have real teeth” he said.

“The pilot agri-environment schemes will require consultation; however, we need to be clear that carbon tax will impact disproportionately on farmers. The increase in the Carbon Tax will increase the burden on farmers by an extra €6m bringing the total annual cost to over €25m with no alternatives available,” he said.

Taxation measures

The Chair of IFA’s Farm Business Committee Rosemary McDonagh said, “It is positive to see stamp duty reliefs, specifically consanguinity and consolidation relief, renewed in the Budget. These will encourage farm transfer and generational renewal”.

“The equalisation of the Earned Income Tax Credit by €150 to €1,650 is long overdue, but welcome, as is the increase in the flat rate on VAT from 5.4% to 5.6%,” she said.

Farm Schemes

“It is positive to see an allocation for the rollover of farm schemes as part of the CAP transition including GLAS, ANC, TAMS, suckler cow (BDGP & BEEP-S), sheep welfare, and organics,” said IFA Rural Development Chairman Michael Biggins.

“Farm schemes must remain a central part of Government policy, particularly for the low-income dry stock sector,” he said.

“Direct payments are a huge part of family farm incomes. Targeted schemes are increasingly important, many of which have a significant climate action element.”



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