Saturday 20 January 2018

‘Loan scheme may not go far enough’

Your Budget - Young Farmer

Thomas Duffy (26) is a dairy farmer from outside Virginia, Co Cavan. Photo: Seamus Farrelly
Thomas Duffy (26) is a dairy farmer from outside Virginia, Co Cavan. Photo: Seamus Farrelly

independent.ie Newsdesk

A young farmer has said that a lot of people in his profession felt let down that the Budget did not properly address the issue of income volatility due to fluctuating milk prices and Brexit.

Thomas Duffy (26) is a dairy farmer from outside Virginia, Co Cavan. He said that while the €25m set aside as part of a Brexit loan scheme was welcome, he did not feel it dealt with the income volatility farmers faced. "We still don't know what structure it will take or what the interest rate will be," he said. "It may not be enough for some farmers."

John Barber milks 100 cows on a 110-acre holding. Photo: Alf Harvey
John Barber milks 100 cows on a 110-acre holding. Photo: Alf Harvey

While agricultural land under solar panels is set to be classified as an agricultural activity for Capital Acquisition Tax and Capital Gains Tax relief purposes, Thomas said he was not sure how many this would actually benefit.

He said the investment set aside for rural affairs would "not be enough" to attract people back to the countryside. "There's no new rural rail project. Farming doesn't happen in isolation, we need people around us, and without transport, that won't happen."

However, he said that the additional funding of €25m for TAMS was positive and that the continuation of the stamp duty exemption for trained, young farmers was vital.

James Barber - Farmer

James Barber (34) took over the reins of the family dairy farm in Rathdowney, Co Laois, this year when his father retired.

He milks 100 cows on a 110-acre holding.

Mr Barber, an officer with Macra na Feirme, the young farmers’ organisation, said he felt this Government had been proactive for farmers.

He welcomed the allocation of €25m to deliver low-cost loans to the farming sector and the 1pc rate of stamp duty for inter-family farm transfers.

However, he was disappointed there were no specific measures put in place to protect farmers from price volatility.

“Last year was a very difficult year, and this year is an exceptional year, and I’d like to have seen some kind of income averaging,” he said.

“You could leave money on deposit with an institution, such as the creamery or the factory, in a good year and pull it out in a bad year, but this would be tax-compliant.

“This would mean in a good year, you wouldn’t pay as much tax. This would help smooth out the bumps in a bad year.”

Securing low-interest loans over long periods for young farmers that would allow them to plan for the long term, and invest in their enterprise, is also one of his top priorities.

Irish Independent

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