Speaking at IFA’s pre-Budget lobbying session with Oireachtas members in Dublin today (Wed), IFA President Eddie Downey said that while recent economic indicators are pointing to the beginning of a strong recovery, many rural towns and villages have yet to see any tangible signs of an upturn.
He said, “Strong budget support for farm families will provide a very necessary stimulus for rural Ireland and help to ensure that the benefits of the economic recovery are evenly spread. IFA’s submission identifies funding for farm schemes and supportive taxation measures required for agriculture to continue to contribute to economic recovery, underpinning 300,000 jobs”.
Mr Downey said despite the difficulties this year, especially on livestock and tillage farms, the sector continues to deliver positive growth in food exports and jobs, which is a real and sustainable return on the Government’s investment in agriculture.
Eddie Downey said funding for farm schemes underpins farm incomes and output, especially in vulnerable sectors and regions. “Under the new Rural Development Programme (RDP) for the period 2014-2020, there is an overall allocation of €2.1bn of EU funding and €1.9bn of national funding. Over €500m of funding for RDP farm schemes must be provided in this October’s budget to pay out on a range of farm schemes next year.”
Expenditure priorities for farming in Budget 2015 are:
• Commencement of contracts for the new agri-environmental GLAS scheme in early 2015, with 30,000 farmers allowed into the scheme in its first year and payments made in 2015;
• Allocation of €30m for the TAMS scheme in 2015 to fund on-farm investment programmes across all sectors;
• Funding of €52m for the Beef Data & Genomic Scheme to support the vulnerable suckler sector;
• Increased capital funding allocations for the horticulture, forestry and aquaculture sectors to achieve output targets and employment growth.
On the taxation side, IFA Farm Business Chairman, Tom Doyle said, “The agri-taxation review provides an opportunity to ensure that the taxation system delivers a coherent support for the achievement of the key policy goals for agriculture outlined in Food Harvest 2020. These include promoting on-farm investment, encouraging new entrants to farming, increasing land mobility, and improving the overall structure, efficiency and productive capacity of agriculture”.
Taxation priorities for farming in Budget 2015 are:
• Introduction of a Tax Deposit Scheme to better manage income volatility as a result of weather extremes and product price fluctuations;
• Introduction of a Phased Transfer Partnership model, providing tax relief to farmholders during the defined period of transfer to the next generation of young farmers;
• Retention of 90% Agricultural Relief to support the transfer of viable family farms;
• Retention of Pay & File deadline for self-assessed income tax returns and simplification of income tax returns for farmers with low turnover;
• Simplification of taxation system to reduce cost of compliance on small farm businesses.
Mr Downey concluded, “IFA will be meeting the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and the Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin later this week. We will be emphasising that, while farming is facing significant challenges at the moment, the right Government supports in this year’s Budget will underpin growth, which is making a major contribution to economic recovery, especially across rural Ireland”.