Macra launches submission for Budget 2021

Macra na Feirme has launched its submission of priorities for the upcoming Budget 2021, which will be published next month.

Macra argued that its proposals for the budget will “lead directly to a stronger, more progressive agricultural sector and a more resilient rural environment”.

The focus of the budget, Macra said, is on both taxation and funding measures.

The government needs to step up and show its support for young people in rural Ireland.

“Young farmers need the opportunity to establish themselves without large debt and young people need to be able to work and contribute to the local economy” Macra president Thomas Duffy said today (Friday, September 11) at the launch.

The proposals included changes to existing measures, such as changes to tax exemption on the leasing of farmland to family members under 30, along with the continuation of consanguinity relief until 2025.

Meanwhile, new measures outlined by Macra include a dedicated debt mediation service for farmers and VAT exemptions on safety equipment and sexed semen.

Farming is at a difficult time. There are a lot of big asks on us as farmers. We need to see creative ideas used to achieve those asks.

“It’s now we need to see real investment in the future of farming,” Macra’s agricultural affairs chair Shane Fitzgerald said.

Other key issues Macra highlights include rural transport and infrastructure.

The young farmer association is calling for investments for those working from home, including an increase in the Work from Home allowance; a ‘microgrant’ scheme for investments for those unable to access broadband through fibre; and investment in increasing the availability of apprenticeships.

Furthermore, Macra is also calling on the government to make free travel available for under 25s to reduce financial pressure of car ownership on rural young people and to address emissions.

Rural young people are being left behind in the move to ‘work from home’ and when they need to access public transport services, they simply aren’t available.

“These issues are widening the rural/urban divide and the government needs to address this in Budget 2021,” commented Shane Quigley, Macra’s rural youth chairperson.

On social issues, the budget submission highlights the lack of provisions for mental healthcare and tackling rural drug abuse. Macra cites the success of the ‘Make a Move’ programme in Co. Tipperary as a model for the government to fund.

Concluding, Macra president Duffy said: “Covid has taught us many lessons, not least that the impossible is very possible. Funds have appeared that can now be better used to make real change and provide a future for rural Ireland, but only if the government acts now.”