ICMSA believes that the announcements made in yesterday’s Budget 2014 concerning agriculture and food reflect the Government’s positive attitude regarding the prospects for both industries moving forward.

“Government has genuinely bought in to the principle that farming and food can play a key role in driving forward the economy a whole,” ICMSA’s Cathal MacCarthy told AgriLand.

“It was highly significant that Minister Simon Coveney intimated that food exports would break through the €10bn barrier this year at his post Budget press conference yesterday. Hopefully, all of this positive mood music will be reflected in government’s continuing support for all the current farm support measures moving forward.”

Commenting on the detail of Budget 2014, president of ICMSA, Comer said that while the initiatives on the taxation side were limited they were, overall, more positive than negative from a farming perspective and he described the initiative regarding Capital Gains Tax Retirement Relief as a step in the right direction. Turning to the increase in the farmers flat rate increase from 4.8 per cent to 5 per cent, Comer observed that the change is simply a reflection in the movement in farm output and input prices but, once again, was a broadly positive change for farmers and for the broader sector.

In relation to the independent review of the various tax reliefs and schemes in 2014, Comer said farmers will view this with some concern and it will be important that the Government clarify and ensure that this is a constructive initiative to promote farm development and land mobility and not simply a means to reduce tax reliefs for the farm sector. He added that the ICMSA will engage in this process in a constructive manner with the objective of ensuring the ongoing and successful development of the Irish agri-food sector and he hoped that it will deliver a taxation system ‘fit for purpose’ and suitable to the current structure of Irish farming.

On the expenditure side, the ICMSA President welcomed the commitment to TAMS for dairy farmers but he was critical of the absence of an agri-environment scheme in 2014 and stated that is a particular blow for the 13,000 farmers leaving REPS this year.