IFA President Eddie Downey has said Budget decisions secured by the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney in the Budget next week will define the Government’s commitment to farming, and especially to farm families in vulnerable sectors and regions.
Eddie Downey said, “IFA is clear that in Budget 2016, the Government must deliver on its funding commitment to the Rural Development Programme (RDP). Funding of €580m, which has already been committed as part of the RDP, must be provided for farm schemes in the Budget. The Government must increase new GLAS applicants to 20,000 and address farmer concerns with this scheme, and other vital Rural Development schemes”.
“The new Knowledge Transfer Programme must accommodate mixed enterprise farms and Minister Coveney must reverse the decision to exclude sheep fencing from TAMS II. Grain farmers also need to know the full extent of the Government’s commitment to provide funding for grain storage facilities”.
Eddie Downey said IFA has set out its key Budget demands in an intensive campaign around the country. “In meetings with many members of the Cabinet, I have set out the funding needed for the Rural Development Programme and the taxation measures to progress succession, address volatility and restore equity in the tax code for self-employed. However, Minister Coveney represents our interests around the Cabinet table and it’s his job to deliver for farmers.”
Expenditure priorities for farming in Budget 2016 are:
• Funding of €250m must be allocated for agri-environment schemes in Budget 2016, with full payments for 50,000 participants;
• Funding of €65m for the suckler cow herd must be provided through the Beef Data and Genomics Scheme in Budget 2016;
• A funding allocation of €15m is required for the rollout of Knowledge Transfer programmes for farmers across all sectors in 2016;
• Funding of €40m is required for the TAMS II programme in 2016, to cater for all sectors;
• A targeted payment for the ewe flock, requiring a funding allocation of €25m in Budget 2016; and
• An increased funding allocation for the TB Eradication Programme, to include increased consequential loss payments for farmers.
IFA Farm Business Chairman Tom Doyle said, “Budget 2016 provides an opportunity for the Government to address the structural problems and build on the productive capacity of the agricultural sector through the taxation system”.
The taxation priorities for farming in Budget 2016 are:
• Introduction of a farm transfer incentive to maximise the productive capacity of the farm enterprise and to support two generations through the transfer;
• Introduction of an Earned Income Tax Credit for self-employed workers to restore equity in the income tax system. The difference in income tax treatment between the self-employed and employees is particularly severe at lower income levels, and must be removed;
• Retention of 90% Agricultural Relief for farm transfers and adjustment of CAT thresholds to reflect asset price changes; and
• Extension of the Stamp Duty Young Trained Farmers exemption and Stock Relief measures past their current expiry dates of 31st December 2015;
• Extension of income averaging to forestry clear-felling income.
Concluding, the IFA President said Food Wise 2025 has set very ambitious targets for farm families. “The implementation of the measures outlined in our pre-Budget submission will be critical to achieving these targets”.