Budget 2020: ‘Won’t mitigate agricultural Armageddon’

Reacting to the ‘Budget 2020′ announcement, the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) president Joe Healy has said: “The funding provided for the agri-food sector will fall short of what will be needed as Ireland faces an agricultural Armageddon.”

‘Budget 2020’ was announced by the Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohue, today, Tuesday, October 8.

Continuing, Healy said: “While the €110 million committed to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine for next year is a step forward; much more will be needed now as farmers are already suffering huge losses due to Brexit uncertainty.

Beef farmers have incurred huge losses since May 12 when the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) was introduced and these have to be covered.

“Now that the Irish Government has set out its plans, we need the EU Commission to put its Brexit funding cards on the table,” he said.

Scheme clarity

Continuing, Healy said: “More clarity is needed regarding the implications for certain farm schemes such as the Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP) scheme for suckler farmers introduced last year.

“We also need clarity on the Minister for Agriculture’s plans for the €20 million underspend in the BEAM.

The allocation of €3 million for pilot agri-environmental schemes is welcome, but it’s a very modest allocation.

“Environmental schemes are an area where farmers can make a significant positive contribution to climate action.

“The increase in the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) farm plan funding to €1 million is also welcome and a step in the right direction.”

Earned Income Tax Credit

Healy acknowledged the €150 increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit in closing the gap that exists between the self-employed and those in the PAYE sector, but said farmers will be “disappointed” it has not reached the full €1,650 as committed in the programme for Government.

Carbon tax

The IFA president said the carbon tax will “disproportionately affect farmers and rural dwellers as they don’t have an alternative”.

We expect a significant amount of the funding to be ringfenced for agri-environmental schemes, renewable initiatives that have a farmer and community focus.

He said it was “very disappointing that there was no reference to the Fair Deal Scheme”.

The Government needed to provide assurances that the changes agreed by the cabinet are provided for.

Stamp duty

The IFA Farm Business Chairman Martin Stapleton said the increase in the stamp duty rate from 6% to 7.5% would “hit farmers who were trying to expand their holdings”.

“IFA has been seeking to have a separate stamp duty rate for farm transfer.

“The extension of restructuring relief is important for those farmers who are trying to consolidate their holdings,” he said.

TAMS

IFA Rural Development Chairman Joe Brady has welcomed the increase of €12.1 million in Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Schemes (TAMS) to bring the overall allocation to €82 million.

However, he expressed concern that the overall Rural Development Programme Budget of €395 million will not be spent unless Minister Creed takes urgent action.

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