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‘Underwhelming’ Budget that tells young people, 'Take up gaming not farming'

Government failed to show commitment to young farmers facing dual challenge of food production and climate change, farming leader claims

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Macra na Feirme president John Keane said the Budget 2022 does not support young farmers. Photo: John D Kelly

Macra na Feirme president John Keane said the Budget 2022 does not support young farmers. Photo: John D Kelly

Macra na Feirme president John Keane said the Budget 2022 does not support young farmers. Photo: John D Kelly

This year’s Budget has effectively told young people to take up gaming not farming, according to Macra na Feirme.

Macra president John Keane said the Government did not show any commitment to young farmers, to addressing generational renewal or the reality that young farmers must meet dual challenges of food production and climate change after details of Budget 2022 were announced, including the allocation of €1.85bn for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine next year, an increase of €32m on the 2021 Budget allocation.

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Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Michael McGrath said the funds will provide for a second phase of the soil sampling programme in 2022 and fully establish the Food Ombudsman.

Finance Minister Pascal Donohoe extended the various farming stock relief measures, with general stock relief to continue to the end of 2024, while stock relief for young trained farmers and farm partnerships, and the young trained farmers’ stamp duty relief, will continue to the end of next year.

However, Macra na Feirme said the Budget does not support young farmers.

“We do not see progress on the major challenges facing young people in rural Ireland. The minister has announced tax credits for the digital gaming industry worth up to €25m, but cannot make commitments to young farmers. Minister Donohoe has effectively told the next generation considering farming careers to take up computer gaming instead.”

ICMSA president Pat McCormack said that farmers would look in vain to Budget 2022 for any signal that the Government understood the scale of the challenge that it is being put before the State’s farm families.

“We keep hearing that we’re a critical sector in terms of emissions lowering and we keep saying that we can and will get on board with the project so long as rural Ireland’s economic sustainability is given the same consideration as environmental sustainability. Everybody keeps agreeing with that – certainly the Government does – but only until it comes time to actually do something meaningful and invest towards that end,” Mr McCormack said.

“Then, suddenly, it all goes quiet. That’s what happens every year and that’s what happened today.”

He also said that whatever benefit farmers have enjoyed from the last 18 months of income stability and reasonable prices has been wiped out by input surges as we see the prices of fertiliser, fuel and energy soar.

IFA president Tim Cullinan said the Government reneged on its commitment to allocate a portion of the €1.5bn carbon tax money to agriculture in yesterday’s Budget.

“It’s extraordinary that the Government has told us that €49m in funding ‘that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine would otherwise expect to receive in 2022 from carbon tax receipts’ has been allocated to the Department of Social Protection,” he said.

“It’s stated in the Programme for Government that this funding would be used for environmental and climate measures for farming. This has not happened and it will further rock farmer confidence in the Programme for Government commitment on the allocation of the carbon tax, which is also costing farmers a lot of money.

“Overall, the Budget is an underwhelming one for farmers.”

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