Farmers in Ireland need “innovative financial support” to preserve food supply, the National Economic Dialogue has heard.

Speaking at the event in Dublin Castle today (Monday, June 20), Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) president Tim Cullinan called for government policy to reflect the “changed circumstances” over the last six months.

He highlighted that the war in Ukraine has caused “huge disruption”, and, partially as a result, farm families were struggling with extra bills.

“Farmers are currently engulfed in an inputs price crisis, and they will need innovative financial support to help preserve food supply, employment and economic activity in rural Ireland in the weeks and months ahead.

“While we acknowledge the pig, tillage and fodder schemes [all announced in recent weeks], more will need to be done,” Cullinan argued.

He stressed the need for government’s climate policy to incorporate economic and social sustainability.

The IFA president commented: “This must be the cornerstone of policy formation. We cannot have environmental targets without proper understanding of the implications for economic and social sustainability.

“As we face economic headwinds, this principle must apply right across the economy, not just in agriculture.”

The National Economic Dialogue is the official forum for consultation between the government and the public on the national budget for the year ahead.

The event allows interest groups from sectors across the economy to voice their concerns in advance of Budget 2023.

During his contribution, Cullinan noted that this year’s budget provides an opportunity for the government to “demonstrate that it understands the real situation for Irish farmers on the ground”.

“I am calling on the government to firstly remove all unnecessary uncertainty and, at a minimum, extend all existing positive taxation measures and interventions to promote agricultural activity, asset transfer and balanced rural development for at least the next three years.”

He called for maximum co-financing under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and maximum funding under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR) for agriculture.

The farm leader also told the National Economic Dialogue that “many” farmers will see significant cuts in their direct payments under the CAP when the new programme begins in 2023.

Cullinan formally called for a temporary reduction in the VAT rate for certain agricultural commodities; the suspension of excise duty on agricultural diesel and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for farm use; and accelerated capital allowances.

Finally, the IFA president stressed that the Zoned Residential Land Tax (due to come into effect from January 2024) must ensure that all productive land currently and previously used for food production is exempted.