Sexed semen facility and farmer welfare measures among 6 Macra budget calls

In its budget submission made in advance of Budget 2020 tomorrow, Tuesday, October 8, Macra na Feirme has outlined six key priorities.

Budget 2020 is set to be announced by Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure in the Dáil tomorrow.

In its submission ahead of this, the young farmer and rural youth representative organisation identified six key areas needing additional funding in particular.

These include the following:
  • Farmer health, safety and well-being;
  • EU state aid restrictions on young farmer reliefs;
  • A sexed semen facility;
  • The Youth Services Grant Scheme;
  • On-farm nutrient management infrastructure; and
  • Rural broadband.

Under farmer health, safety and well-being, Macra noted that there are many aspects outside the farmer’s gate out of their control, which can add additional pressures and strain on the farmer’s health and well-being.

The organisation proposes to develop a National Rural Network for Ireland, which would require urgent funding. It also calls for a roll-out of its mental health initiative “Farmers Matter – Make the Moove” from north Tipperary to other counties to improve health and well-being among farmers.

Macra also called for a doubling of the €70,000 threshold – which limits young farmer stamp duty relief, 100% stock relief and succession partnerships tax credits under the Agricultural Block Exemption Regulation – to €140,000.

The young farmer association highlighted sexed semen as a very significant solution to decreasing greenhouse gas (GHG) associated with the agricultural sector.

Macra na Feirme is proposing capital investment of €500,000 per annum to 2025 for the establishment of a sexing facility suitable for processing 100,000 units and to be used by both commercial companies and research bodies such as Teagasc.

“Also, financial support for the licensing cost of the sexing equipment to ensure greater uptake of sexing technology by AI companies. This would lead to a greater uptake by farmers resulting in reduced fines for missed targets for climate change in 2030,” Macra’s submission highlighted.

The submission notes Macra’s support of the National Youth Council of Ireland proposal for a €3 million increase in the Youth Services Grand by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs for 2020.

“This investment is really needed in order to support the provision of already stretched services to rural youth in Ireland,” according to the document, which notes that the grant has been reduced significantly over time.

Macra is calling for a fast track system of applying for the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) for young farmers and farmers participating in the voluntary Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme (ASSAP).

“This fast tracking of applications will make it easier for farmers to benefit and also encourage more farmers to get involved in this voluntary programme,” the submission details.

Finally, Macra has said that the Rural Broadband Scheme should target investment in carrier neutral network providers to swiftly build a fiber-optic infrastructure in rural areas that all telecom network operators can access.