Speaking at the MacGill Summer School debate on agriculture today (Wed), IFA Chief Economist Rowena Dwyer said the relatively small size of farms, the lack of land mobility and the unfavourable age structure must be addressed to achieve the growth potential of agriculture.
She continued, “With over 25% of our farmers aged over 65, we need to encourage farmers to transfer their farm within their lifetime, and not penalise the person taking over. There must also be incentives to transfer land use and to promote on-farm investment.”
The reduction of stamp duty rates for farmland, introduction of Capital Gains Tax Relief for farm consolidation, retention of existing Agricultural Relief and the better promotion of positive schemes such as the Land Leasing Tax Exemption scheme were among the measures proposed by Ms Dwyer to improve efficiency and increase output.
On volatility, Ms Dwyer stated, “At farm level, continuous professional development to improve management capability, understand costs and empower farmers is vital, while the agri-food industry and banking system have a key role to play through provision of risk management and flexible financing options. In the ongoing CAP negotiations, policymakers must highlight the importance of the Single Farm Payment in providing cushioning against income volatility and in providing stability in production.”
Ms Dwyer concluded, “In making decisions about the use of scarce resources, Government must support the sectors that are already delivering, and have the scope to drive more economic growth and maintain rural communities. Primary agriculture, which underpins the entire agri-food industry, has this potential.”