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Launching IFA’s pre-Budget 2021 submission, IFA President Tim Cullinan said that farm schemes, Brexit supports and a carbon tax exemption for agri-diesel were the critical elements of IFA’s pre-Budget submission.

“We have targets for all of the agri-schemes including; seeking payment of €300 per suckler cow, €30 per ewe and €300m for ANCs,” he said.

“The Government must acknowledge the imminent threat of Brexit. In 2019 €110m was set aside for a Brexit reserve. This fund must increase in Budget 2021. The €5bn contingency fund at EU level is essential, but we need our Government to be willing to help farmers too,” he said.

On carbon tax,  IFA is calling for an exception for agri-diesel.

“The purpose of the carbon tax is to change behaviour, but, farmers do not have an alternative to fossil-fuelled tractors. There should be an exemption from carbon tax on agri-diesel until alternatives become available,” said the IFA President.

“Stamp duty reliefs, specifically consanguinity and consolidation relief, are due to be renewed this year – it is vital that this happens to encourage farm transfer and generational renewal,” he said.

IFA Farm Business Committee Chair Rose Mary McDonagh said, “In our pre-Budget submission, IFA put forward proposals based on the three pillars of sustainability: economic, environmental and social. Our message to Government between now and October is that the sustainable growth of our sector needs policies that encourage investment at farm level, recognise the role of agriculture in achieving balanced regional development and deliver viable farm incomes “.

“There is a significant need for taxation supports, in particular through investment in emissions efficient equipment and the removal of discrimination in our tax system for the self-employed.”

IFA Rural Development Chairman Michael Biggins said farm schemes must remain a central part of Government policy, particularly for the low-income dry stock sector.

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

As part of IFA’s campaign, officers will meet TDs & Senators in the coming weeks at a local level. On Wednesday 16th September, IFA will hold its national lobbying day while adhering to all national guidelines regarding Covid-19.

IFA President Tim Cullinan yesterday led an IFA delegation to meet the new Agriculture Minister Dara Calleary.

“It was an opportunity for us to discuss the outcome of the CAP talks and while the allocation for Pillar 1 is down, there are still some technical issues to decide which could avoid a cut in the 2021 BPS. The Minister and his officials must do all they can to avoid any cut BPS,” he said.

“The other important issue is the level of national co-financing for schemes such as the BDGP, Sheep Welfare, GLAS and TAMS. The maximum level of permissible co-financing has expanded to 57%. The Irish Government must commit to the maximum co-financing,” he said.

“Farm schemes must target active farmers and issues like the unfair burden of designated land must be addressed,” he said.

“I also made it clear to Minister Calleary that the €50m COVID support scheme for beef must give significant support to the finishers who lost the most as a result of the COVID crisis. A scattergun approach to distributing this fund would be a lost opportunity,” he said.

“The looming threat of Brexit was also discussed. The €5bn EU contingency fund is a significant development, but we also need to strengthen the €110m Brexit reserve for agriculture introduced in the last Budget,” he said.

“We were clear that IFA intends to engage constructively on the commitments in the Programme for Government on climate action and diversity,” he said.

“However, we emphasised the importance of productive agriculture and the need to secure the continuation of the nitrates derogation,” he said.

“The new Food Ombudsman must have real power and be sufficiently resourced,” he said.

Other issues discussed included tillage, renewables, forestry, Fair Deal, aquaculture and the recent landslide in Leitrim.

IFA President Tim Cullinan has congratulated the new Minister for Agriculture Dara Calleary on his appointment.

“We look forward to working with the new Minister to ensure that we harness the full potential of our farming sector,” he said.

“It is important that the new Minister hits the ground running,” he said.

The IFA President said, “The EU Council on Friday and Saturday where the EU and CAP budgets for the next seven years will be discussed is absolutely critical for Irish farming. It is vital that the new Minister stresses the importance of this to the Taoiseach who will be representing Ireland at the meeting,” he said.

“We also need to get the €50m COVID beef payment out to farmers as a matter of urgency,” he said.

“I also want to wish former Minister Cowen and his family all the best for the future.”

IFA President Tim Cullinan said the Programme for Government has positive aspects but lacks clear commitments on budgets and spending.

“Overall, while there are lots of words, it lacks hard figures,” he said.

“In implementing the programme, farmers will be looking to this Government to support farming and bring forward climate action measures that are practical, achievable and that properly reward farmers,” he said.

“Farmers must be viewed as part of the climate solution,” he said.

“Any Climate Change Bill will have to take account of the benefits that farmers and agriculture provide in carbon sequestration. All carbon sinks including grassland, hedgerows, crops, peatlands and forestry must be fully accounted for with the most up to date science.”

“The devil will be in the detail in terms of how emission targets are to be achieved and how they are calculated. We will engage fully in the discussions that will take place,” he said.

Tim Cullinan said there must also be recognition for the cyclical nature of methane in GHG emissions accounting methodology.

“I note the clear statement that biogenic methane must be treated differently and we will ensure this is the case in any new proposals or targets.”

“The Programme for Government commits to an environmental scheme similar to REPS. This will need to be sufficiently resourced with new funding to enable a significant payment per farmer,” he said.

Tim Cullinan also acknowledged the commitment to appoint a food ombudsman in line with the EU directive on the Food Chain.

“Some of the more extreme proposals from the Green Party such as a ban on live exports and the removal of the nitrates derogation are not in the programme, which is important,” he said.

The IFA President said that the increase in the carbon tax would have a disproportionate impact on rural communities where are there are no alternatives.

“The potential for farmers to contribute to our climate targets through the production of renewable energy must be something the new Government embraces,” he said.

“Farmers are keen to play their part, but to date they have been excluded,” he said.

Finally, he said that implementing legislation to revise the Nursing Homes Support Scheme arrangements for farmers and business owners must be prioritised by the new Government

Addressing the National Economic Dialogue in Dublin Castle today, IFA Farm Business Chairman Martin Stapleton said the most significant challenge for the sector is the imminent EU Mercosur trade deal, which undermines our high production standards.

Through its reports, the EU Food and Veterinary Office has shown that Brazilian imports fail to meet EU standards on traceability, food safety, animal health, the environment and labour law. This is a sell out and agriculture cannot be a sacrificial lamb for trade.

Martin Stapleton said CAP budgetary cuts and a looming Brexit present major threats to the sector, and agriculture must be supported to achieve sectoral climate action targets.

“In Europe, we expect our Government to take a firm position on the Irish CAP Budget where reductions in spending, coupled with a changing of the goalposts, is not acceptable for farm families. Income must be protected. The next round of CAP negotiations cannot result in more unviable Irish family farms by 2027,” he said.

In the short term, Brexit is the biggest challenge. From last Autumn to this Spring there was massive damage to the incomes of livestock farmers caused by uncertainty in the markets.

Martin Stapleton acknowledged the vital support provided by the EU and the Irish Government to producers for these historic losses.

“This Autumn we are once again faced with renewed uncertainty and the possibly of a no-deal outcome, which if it happened would result in far greater losses. It is critical that the future trading relationship between the EU and UK remains a top priority for the Irish Government.”

The IFA Farm Business Chairman said a clear budget must be delivered to achieve the sectoral actions in the Government’s Climate Action Plan.  “Agriculture is our largest indigenous sector; it is vital for keeping rural areas alive and sustainable into the future,” he said.

Martin Stapleton identified three key areas for the upcoming Budget.

  • Incentivised schemes for renewables at farm level, which would also provide a potential income source. If the Government is serious about community led initiatives, then this must mean grid access, improved planning and increased support for micro-gen renewables. More generally we need leadership to guide our sector through the delivery of the Teagasc Climate Roadmap.

Furthermore, we need a Government Strategy for the development of forestry on unenclosed lands. And finally support for further research to ensure all carbon sequestered in grassland, forestry and hedgerows is recognised.

  • The suckler cow herd is worth €3bn to the Irish economy exporting to over 60 international markets. In order to stabilise numbers and improve farm incomes, a targeted payment in the region of €200 per suckler cow is required, structured around the RDP and the existing Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme and Beef Data Genomics Programme.

 

  • The removal of discrimination in the tax system between PAYE employees and the self-employed. The current €300 gap must be closed out in Budget 2020. Within the taxation system there are further opportunities to encourage positive change for the environment, such as accelerated capital allowance for emission efficient equipment and the extension of the VAT 58 form to include items such as health and safety equipment.

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