On what they see as one of the most important days on their calendar, the IFA held its annual pre-budget lobbying day in the Round Room of the Mansion House last week.
Bernie McCarthy, Chairman of County Westmeath IFA, was part of the IFA delegation, which took the opportunity to present farmers’ concerns to TDs and Senators throughout the day with the aim of securing the government’s commitments in the October budget.
IFA President Tim Cullinan, Farm Company President Rose Mary McDonagh and Rural Development President Michael Biggins led the delegation, which met with Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe.
Ms McCarthy said there are several key measures the government should implement if it is truly to ensure the future viability of Ireland’s largest indigenous sector.
“Farmers across all sectors face an increasingly uncertain future. Growing regulation, Brexit-related trade disruptions, the prospect of substantial cuts in direct payments due to CAP reforms, climate action measures and rising input costs put Westmeath farmers in a perilous position ‘ , she said.
“Now is the time for the government to step in and put action and money behind the rhetoric. IFA is seeking co-funding to ensure that Pillar II programs such as Natural Constraint Zones (ANC); Low carbon green agro-environmental scheme (GLAS); Targeted Agricultural Modernization Program (TAMS); Beef Data and Genomics Program (BDGP – suckler cows); the Sheep Welfare Scheme and the Sheep Welfare Scheme; are properly funded. We are looking for € 300 per suckler cow, € 30 per ewe and € 300 million for ANC. In addition, we need a new regime for farmers who practice tillage to stop the exodus from this sector.
“The government is clearly committed to allocating 1.5 billion euros of carbon tax revenue to an agri-environmental program, referred to in the government program as ‘REPS-2’. We are still waiting for this commitment to be honored.
Mr Cullinan said the IFA has made it clear that farmers are keen to be part of the climate solution.
“Accelerated depreciation deductions and value added tax (VAT) exemptions on the purchase of emission-saving investments will help farmers play their part in contributing to the sector’s climate change targets. “
“The renewal of stamp duty relief for young farmers trained after 2021 is also necessary to encourage farm transfer and generational renewal,” he said.
Ms McDonagh told politicians that farmers need significant tax support, “particularly through investments in emission-saving equipment and the removal of discrimination in our tax system for the self-employed”; and Mr Biggins said agricultural programs should remain a central part of government policy, especially for the low-income dry stock sector.
“Direct payments represent a huge share of family farm income. Targeted programs are increasingly important. Spending on TAMS is currently behind target, with around 60% of the revised allocation of € 523 million spent to date. There needs to be increased flexibility as well as the inclusion of additional eligible investments to ensure that all funding is withdrawn, ”he said.