Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Thursday 18 January 2018

Revealed: Marginal farmers in line for a €25m budget boost

•Green light for ANC scheme top-up

•More cash for TAMS

•New low-cost loan scheme in pipeline

Minister Michael Creed
Minister Michael Creed
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Marginal farmers are set to be among the winners in today's Budget.

The long-awaited €25m top-up to the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme will be given the green light, the Farming Independent has learned.

All of the farm lobby groups have been calling for action on the commitment to increase the ANC set out in the Programme for Government.

Expenditure on the TAMS programme is also expected to rise this year to meet the increase in approval levels.

The Budget is also expected to include provision for a scheme similar to last year's low-cost loans for farmers.

There was extremely high demand for the €150m low-cost loan scheme, developed by the Government and Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) for cash-strapped farmers. The farm bodies have been warning access to credit at a competitive rate is vital to provide working capital on farms.

There will also be continued expenditure under the Rural Development Programme for schemes such as GLAS and the €300m Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP).

However, it is understood there won't be any increase in funding under the BDGP scheme.

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Long-running concerns over the impact of the Fair Deal nursing home scheme on family farms and businesses are also expected to be tackled.

A proposed three-year cap will apply to farmland and businesses as part of a Budget deal set out by Minister of State for Older People Jim Daly. This will dramatically reduce the financial burden facing elderly people and their families. Today's Budget is also expected to have an extremely strong Brexit focus for farmers and small businesses who have been badly hit by the collapse in sterling.

One of Agriculture Minister Michael Creed's top priorities in recent months has been building opportunities in new markets and helping protect farmers against vulnerability.

Mr Creed (pictured) recently announced a market diversification drive to support the food and drink sectors that are heavily dependent on the UK market, with an additional €6.7m of funding for Bord Bia. Another key focus of the Budget for farmers could be measures to tackle the level of income volatility affecting farmers and agri-businesses. Several tools to help cope with volatility have been set out by the IFA and ICMSA.

These include a proposal from the IFA and ICMSA for a deposit scheme which would allow farmers to place on deposit income received in a particular year and to bring it back into their farm enterprise at any time within the next five years.

The income would become subject to income tax at the time of its being drawn down.

In their pre-Budget submissions, the IFA and ICMSA highlighted the importance of retaining key measures such as keeping the 90pc Agricultural Relief from Capital Acquisitions Tax.

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