Budget 2018 ‘very disappointing for farm families’

The President of the ICMSA (Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association), John Comer, has described today’s budget as “very disappointing from the point of view of farm families”.

Comer also described as “inexplicable” the fact that the budget contained no measure whatsoever to counter the “growing problem of price and income volatility that was trapping farm families in a very precarious financial position”.

Comer acknowledged that progress has been made under the general headings of the USC (Universal Social Charge) and the Earned Income Credit. The increased allocations on both TAMS (Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme) and ANC (Areas of Natural Constraint) – which should reverse some of the cuts imposed during the recession – and the low-interest loan package were also welcomed.

However, the ICMSA president said it is a major concern that there is no concrete measure in the budget to address the critical issue of income volatility, particularly in advance of Brexit in 2019.

Comer said that farmers’ disappointment would focus on the non-introduction of a Farm Management Deposit type scheme that would have permitted farmers to deposit money in a government-supervised and regulated scheme in ‘good’ years which they could then draw down in ‘bad’ years.

Such a scheme could be used in the event of price and income collapses of the type experienced so catastrophically in the dairy markets just last year after milk price fell below the cost of production for 18 months.

Comer said that, while there were certain subheadings where the budget had recognised problems and delivered solutions, there would be “genuine bewilderment and surprise that minister Donohoe had failed so completely” on the Farm Management Deposit Scheme – which would “help solve a serious and growing problem and whose introduction was, in the estimation of all serious observers, fully justified”.