IFA recommends government-backed low-cost loans in pre-budget submission

Government-supported, low-cost loans for working capital and on-farm investment have been identified as a key priority in the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) pre-budget submission.

The submission, Supporting Farm Incomes – Underpinning Competitiveness, was launched in Dublin today, July 12.

Additional funding has also been called for in relation to Area’s of Natural Constraint (ANCs), the Sheep Welfare Scheme and the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP).

Launching the submission, the President of the IFA, Joe Healy, said that budget 2018 provides an opportunity for the government to provide direct and positive support to farming enterprises.

Delivery on these proposals will contribute to tackling low farm incomes, underpinning the contribution of the farming and agri-food sector to the economy – including the Foodwise 2025 targets – and supporting economic activity in rural communities.

Healy stated that sufficient funding across the different Rural Development Programme headings, to ensure full disbursement of funding during 2018, must be an important element of the next budget.

Meanwhile, the IFA also identified further expenditure proposals which it hopes will positively impact on farm enterprise competitiveness – as well as helping to support farm family incomes and viability.

The IFA’s expenditure priorities for budget 2018 are:
  • Provision of government-supported, low-cost loans for farming enterprises – to fund both ongoing working capital requirements and on-farm investment;
  • Increased funding for the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANCs) to reach €225m – commencing the process of restoring ANC payments to 2008 levels;
  • Increased funding of €25m for the BDGP and a further €5m in funding for the Sheep Welfare Scheme, to support the delivery of additional measures;
  • An increase in funding for the Fair Deal Scheme to remove the discrimination against farming and other small business assets in the means assessment.

Taxation

The IFA’s Farm Business Chairman, Martin Stapleton, highlighted budget 2018 as an opportunity to address ongoing challenges in farming through the taxation system.

“These include income volatility, the discrimination between self-employed and employees in the income tax system and the need for ongoing farm investment, intergenerational transfer and farm restructuring,” he said.

In addition, the IFA said tax measures are required to support and deliver upon government policy in renewable energy – through the development of renewable energy projects using farmland.

On farm taxation, the key priorities include a reduction in the VAT rate on animal vaccines as a means to improve herd health.

Other priorities include the need for Earned Income Tax Credit to be increased to the same level as the PAYE credit.

The submission also proposes that farmland, under solar panel infrastructure, should be classified as a qualifying asset for the purposes of assessment for relief from Capital Acquisitions Tax upon transfer.

The IFA is also calling for the retention of consanguinity relief for stamp duty, as well as the extension of relief to all transfers undertaken within the Registered Farm Partnership structure.