COMMENT: Irish Farmers Association (IFA) President John Bryan has called on Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney to mount a major battle at cabinet to defend farm schemes and measures that support farm restructuring and investment.

With farm income back 15 per cent in 2012 and many farmers still under financial pressure as a result of the fodder crisis, John Bryan warned against any further attack on farm schemes and said the Government must start reinvesting in agriculture.

Farm Business Chairman Tom Doyle outlines IFA’s demands:
• Retain 90 per cent Agricultural Relief and CAT thresholds
• Maintain current Pay and File dates
• Extend land leasing incentives to include incorporated farm businesses
• Increase in general stock relief from 25 per cent to 50 per cent
• Tax treatment for mandatory co-op share purchase to finance dairy expansion
• Removal of income tax anomalies that discriminate against farmers and self-employed
– Tax Credit for self-employed
– No increase in PRSI rate unless voluntary to secure increased benefits.

Tom Doyle also insisted that the income assessment for third level grants must continue to exclude farmland.

Farm Schemes
Rural Development Chairman Flor McCarthy highlights IFA’s priorities:
• Strong funding allocation for Agrienvironment and Disadvantaged Areas (DAs) schemes
– Allow the 3,500 farmers locked out of AEOS 3 to join from January
– Introduce new scheme under Rural Development Plan 2014–2020 for 13,000 farmers whose REPS4 contracts end in 2014 or extend their contracts for a year until the new
scheme is in place
• Funding support for Suckler Cow herd
• On-farm investment support through Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMs) and the horticulture grant scheme
• Maintain Forestry premium and funding for forest roads
• Funding for Discussion Groups across all sectors
• Restoration of the income and child disregards for Farm Assist.

Budget 2014 is due to be delivered on Tuesday 15 October 2013.