Reacting to today’s Budget announcement, IFA President Eddie Downey said that farmers will feel short-changed on the funding provided by the Government for next year as part of the roll-out of the new Rural Development Programme 2015-2020 (RDP).
He said “It is unacceptable that hard-won European RDP money is replacing some national funding in 2015 and Minister Coveney must ensure that the 30,000 farmers entering GLAS get a significant payment next year”.
Eddie Downey said, “The true test of the new RDP for farmers is the early start time and payment dates for farm schemes. By the end of this year, most farmers in vulnerable sectors and regions will be without an agri-environment scheme. The Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney must address the income pressures on these farms and get the GLAS opened up and the 30,000 applications approved, to allow a significant payment in 2015. The additional money allocated for the Beef Genomics scheme is welcome and needs to be built on as the sector is under real income pressure”.
Eddie Downey said the provision of other farm schemes – Disadvantaged Areas, Discussion Groups and TAMS – that are contained in today’s Budget announcement represent a vital part of farm income, supporting investment and economic activity in the rural economy.
On the agri-taxation review, Mr Downey welcomed the Government’s decisions, saying many of the adjustments reflect the submission made by the IFA and followed detailed discussions with the review committee. He said that the changes made were necessary and will help land mobility and structural reform within the sector.
“The enhancement of measures to encourage land leasing and farm consolidation are positive, as is the extension of income averaging from three to five years. The increase in the flat rate VAT refund to 5.2% reflects higher input costs on farms.”
Eddie Downey said given the extreme income volatility being experienced by farmers, more will have to be done in this area. The Phased Partnership model, which incentivises the earlier lifetime transfer of the family farm will have to be re-visited through further consultation.”