The Association of Farm Contractors in Ireland (FCI) is seeking an income tax incentive scheme for seasonal agricultural workers in its pre-budget submission.

The FCI claims that retaining young machine operators and providing them with guidance and experience to develop their skills to a high level is a major challenge.

The association’s proposals include as special tax refund for seasonal workers who go back to work on the family farm having worked with a local farm contractor.

There is also a need to develop a fast-track system which allows seasonal workers, who are not part of a family farm, to more easily sign-off and sign-on to the social welfare system.

The FCI claims that this proposal will make working with a farm contractor a more attractive seasonal employment option, while also providing an opportunity to support declining farm incomes.

The association is seeking a national register of farm contractors who should have access to an Accelerated Investment Allowance (AIA) system to allow them to invest in high capital cost machinery.

Many of these expensive machines have a relatively short working life of three-to-five years under Irish conditions, which is shorter than the current write-down period of eight years.

The benefit of an AIA is to accelerate the timing of the tax relief, the FCI said, by providing 100% tax relief for qualifying capital expenditure in the accounting period in which the expenditure is actually incurred.

This proposed tax relief measure could have significant environmental benefits, according to the National Chairman of the FCI.

Fuel savings of up to 15% have been shown in the use of the modern Tier 4 tractor and harvester engines, with lower CO2 emissions.

“Improving the environmental quality of the contractor national tractor and machinery fleet would also contribute to a lowering of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced by Irish agriculture,” White said.

Along with changes to taxation policy, the FCI is also wants funding to be made available for the purchase of new low Green-House-Gas Slurry equipment and a farm machinery driver’s allowance similar to what is currently available to truck drivers.