ICMSA push for dairy investment scheme

The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) is calling for Ministers Noonan and Coveney to agree a specifically tailored investment scheme for the dairy industry within the context of tomorrow’s Budget.

The proposed measure would include the provision of a lowered Vat rate on all construction work undertaken.

“A scheme of this nature is vital to allow the milk sector secure the growth targets laid down within its Harvest 2020 strategy,” added the organisation’s spokesman Cathal McCarthy.

Regarding a possible coupled payment for suckler cows, McCarthy said that ICMSA remained totally open minded on this issue. He commented: “Apart from the principle involved the key question is: where will the money come from to fund such an initiative?”

Meanwhile ICMSA President John Comer has outlined his views on how the Government can facilitate the needs of agriculture, courtesy of tomorrow’s Budget.

“Partly as a result of intensive lobbying by our association and others there have been some positive measures in the areas of farm transfers and consolidations introduced in recent budgets,” he explained.

“We’d particularly recognise the ‘half rate’ one per cent Stamp Duty for transfers to close relatives, the extension of the Young Trained Farmers Stamp Duty Relief to 31 December 2015 and the Capital Gains Tax Restructuring Relief as logical and welcome. Those measures need to be built upon if we are to address the continuing problems around farm fragmentation and the possibilities of expansion that will loom large post-quota from 2015 onwards.

“For a start, the one per cent rate for transfers to close relatives due to expire at the end of 2014 must be extended to facilitate expansion and sensible succession planning. The Young Trained Farmer Relief requirement for 50 per cent of normal working time to be spent farming is difficult to establish and verify and should be changed to a five year retention of ownership and use of land qualification. Budget 2013 provided for an increase in the rate of CGT to 33 per cent representing an increase of 65 per cent since 2008. ICMSA totally opposes any further increase and calls for the reintroduction of indexation which was withdrawn in 2002.”

According Comer,  the reductions in the CAT tax-free thresholds in successive budgets have been excessive and have worked as a disincentive on land transfers. He concluded: “We believe that the retention of 90 per cent agricultural relief for CAT is absolutely essential to ensure transfer from one generation to the next. We also firmly hold that farm families should be able to avail of the same tax relief for farm leases as non-related farm persons. The current tax code does not allow the same tax relief for land leases to related persons as non-family members which is causing difficulties for farm families that wish to lease the farm to the next generation prior to retirement age.

“We also urge the minister to look at a measure for Budget 2014 that will permit stock relief whereby if the receipts from the forced disposal of stock this year due to the fodder crisis are reinvested in livestock in 2014 or 2015, the farmer concerned can claim stock relief at 100 per cent with proportionate reductions if the farmer does not invest the full amount received from the forced disposal of live stock.”

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