The Irish Government must remove the current carbon tax on fuel usage within the agri contracting sector, according to Richie White, Vice Chairman of the Farm Contractors in Ireland (FCI) organisation.

He is one of the FCI group attending the French agricultural show SIMA in Paris and said the tax is currently levied at a rate of 6.6c/L.

“Irish contractors currently consume 150m litres of fuel annually, which amounts to an annual fuel-related carbon tax take of approximately €5m.

“Ireland is only of three EU states levying this tax. It is a burden on the farm contracting sector and we are asking the Government to rebate the monies that have already been paid by contractors in this context.”

FCI is also calling on the Irish banks to make a real commitment to the farming and contracting industries.

“I am not sure how the banks are dealing with farmers at the present tie. But they are not doing a thing to support farm contractors. Yes, finance is available from all the international manufacturers, where new machinery is concerned.

“But we need genuine competition in the market. And that should be a role played by the banks,” said White.

“The Irish banks also have a key role to play within the second hand machinery market. Dealers, contractors and farmers are finding it impossible to get finance on this type of equipment, which is serving to cause almost total stagnation within the machinery sector as a whole.”

White is extremely conscious of the cash flow problems that may well face farmers in 2015.

“But these same challenges are also confronting contractors,” he said.

“Our members are happy to work with clients on a flexible basis. But farmers must recognise that contractors need, at least, part payment as soon as a job is completed. The outstanding monies can be paid over an agreed period of time.