New Government should take farmers out of the tax net and set them production targets
Published 15/03/2011 | 05:00
The new captains of the struggling ship Ireland need all the help and backing they can get. Given the right environment, farming can provide Enda and Eamon with a helping hand towards our country's economic recovery.
I have a suggestion. Take the shackles off Irish farming and allow it to grow into its potential.
How can this be achieved? In one bold move. Extend the 12.5pc company corporation tax rate to farming.
The reasoning is thus: the primary role of farming should be to create activity and jobs in rural Ireland. Farmers are wealth creators. Getting tax out of farmers is of secondary importance. If farmers have money, they will spend it. More activity on Irish farms leads to higher purchases and higher sales. More product coming off Irish farms leads to more jobs in transport, in food manufacture, etc.
Farming and food production is almost totally indigenous. It still accounts for one-quarter of the country's net foreign currency earnings.
Rural Ireland is about farming. Take away farming from rural Ireland and what have you got left?
Yet, in the past few years, what have we seen?
- Less cereals, less potatoes, less vegetables and the total loss of the sugar industry.
- A serious reduction in suckler cows.
- A collapse of the sheep flock.
- Fewer pigs.
Apart from dairying and forestry, all of the major enterprises are shrinking. Farming is an industry that seems to have turned in on itself rather than looking upwards and outwards. And this is happening at a time when there are signs that the world's food supply and demand balance is tipping towards global scarcity. It is happening at a time when energy prices are rocketing.