Budget 2020: Government Must Support The Sustainable Growth Of Ireland’s Agricultural Sector

Launching the IFA pre-Budget Submission – FARMING FOR A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE – in Dublin today (Wed), IFA President Joe Healy said a progressive Budget 2020, that supports Irish farmers to develop sustainably is imperative, given the immediate threats and long-term challenges facing the sector.

These include; agriculture’s exposure to Brexit, Mercosur, the beef crisis, the battle to maintain CAP funding for Ireland and ambitious targets outlined in the Government’s Climate Action Plan.

Joe Healy said, “In our pre-Budget submission, IFA has put forward proposals based on the three pillars of sustainability: economic, environmental and social. Agriculture is Ireland’s largest indigenous sector with exports valued at €13.7bn in 2018. This represents 10% of our overall exports and 12% of industry turnover. Our message to Government between now and October 8th is that the sustainable growth of this sector needs policies that encourage investment at farm level, recognise the role of agriculture in achieving balanced regional development and deliver viable farm incomes.”

Joe Healy continued, “Brexit uncertainty has taken its toll on farmers and the implementation of our Budget proposals can give them a signal that their role is recognised and that the Government is prepared to protect this valuable sector. The IFA pre-Budget submission contains a range of proposals for national Government in terms of Brexit support, which is compounding the current beef crisis felt across Europe. Farmers cannot continue to bear the burden of what is a geo-political issue”.

Brexit brings with it major unknowns and our environmental challenge is also significant, IFA Farm Business Chairman, Martin Stapleton said, “There is a significant need for taxation supports, in particular through investment in emissions efficient equipment and the removal of discrimination in our tax system for the self-employed.”

“Earlier this year the Government published the Climate Action plan. Contained within it were ambitious targets for the agricultural sector. Farmers are already engaged in significant climate mitigation actions, and we stand ready to do more. However, we need the support and leadership of Government if it is serious about delivering this plan,” he said.

IFA Rural Development Chairman Joe Brady said farm schemes must remain a central part of Government policy, particularly for the low-income dry stock sector. “It is vital that there is maximum utilisation of the Rural Development Plan and that all farm schemes such as ANCs, GLAS, TAMS and the continuation of the BEEP and BDGP be supported and provided for in Budget 2020”.

The IFA expenditure and taxation priorities for Budget 2020 are as follows:

• Brexit fund: comprehensive package of market support measures including direct support for farmers to include structural and adjustment funding. This will include the setting aside of the State Aid limits.

• A €38m increase in funding for suckler cow farmers in addition to the existing BDGP and BEEP schemes bringing total funding to €100m. Increased ANC funding of €50m.

• Removal of the discrimination in the tax system for self-employed including the Earned Income Tax Credit and USC surcharge.

• TAMS funding must be increased to €120m to meet all current and future payment claims and to ensure the full RDP allocation is spent.

• An allocation of €10m for the reopening of the NPWS Farm Plan Scheme for farmers with Natura land.

• The contributory pension calculation must be in line with the National Pensions Framework and those on Farm Assist be credited with PRSI contributions.

• The strategic prioritisation of renewable energy and micro or community-based renewables projects, in terms of planning and grid access to provide a potential additional income source.

• The introduction of a green tax credit where farmers with surplus energy are unable to sell back to the grid.

As part of IFA’s campaign, our officers will meet TDs & Senators in the coming weeks at local level.  On Wednesday 25th September, IFA will hold its national lobbying day at which our officers will meet Oireachtas members from all over the country.

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