Farmers slam David McWilliams' land tax proposal as 'populist nonsense'
Calls by economist David McWilliams to tax land to the hilt have been branded "populist nonsense".
In an article in the Irish Independent last weekend McWilliams described land as a “useless asset which generates no innovation, no creativity, no enhanced productivity”.
He went on to say that it is a feudal, pre-industrial-age asset, so taxing it would not hinder the economy in any way.
“It would simply encourage those who hold land to make it more productive. This means selling it for more productive activity like making it available for houses, rather than hoarding it.
“This would drive down the cost of housing and this fall in the cost of housing would also put money back in the pocket,” he said.
However, Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock has hit back at the calls.
Mr Sherlock said the comments by Mr McWilliams ignored the fact that outside of the cities, land in Europe is used not only to feed the population but is also the basis for attracting tourists, is a store for carbon and is increasingly used as a source of renewable energy.
“During the crash when this country was at risk of going under, farmers kept their shoulders to the wheel and used the land to increase our agri-food exports year after year to some €11.15 billion in 2016.