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Budget must fund farming climate initiatives, say farm bodies

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The IFA is calling for the establishment of a new ‘Rooftop Solar Scheme'

The IFA is calling for the establishment of a new ‘Rooftop Solar Scheme'

The IFA is calling for the establishment of a new ‘Rooftop Solar Scheme'

The Government has been warned to deliver on its climate rhetoric by pumping new money into the agricultural sector in Budget 2023.

After weeks of “listening to experts telling us the livestock sector is the biggest problem” in Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions profile, the country’s farm organisations insist next month’s budget must provide “certainty and stability” inside farm gates.

In the IFA’s pre-Budget submission, President Tim Cullinan called for several tangible measures, outside funding purely diverted from CAP, to boost on-farm sustainability — from economic, social, and environmental perspectives.

The IFA proposes new roof-top solar and anaerobic digestion support schemes be financed by the Department of Environment — not Agriculture. Its submission states: “The funding of solar panels is permitted under the existing TAMS, an important incentive to boost installations and increase our renewable energy sources.

“Given benefits are mostly accrued by other sectors, IFA is calling for the establishment of a new ‘Rooftop Solar Scheme’ and a new ‘Anaerobic Digestion Support Scheme’ financed by the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications.

“This must be separate to Tams to support increased investment in renewable energy sources. No specific allocation for solar panels or anaerobic digestion are currently provided for within the €8bn National Home Energy Upgrade Scheme recently announced.

“The vast majority of the emissions reduction arising from solar panels and anaerobic digestion will accrue to other sectors, not agriculture. Therefore, these initiatives should be funded by the departments whose sector are getting emissions benefit.”

The IFA also seeks the continuation of existing agri-taxation measures to support sustainable growth, agricultural activity asset transfer and balanced rural development for at least the next three years.

It also highlights the need for all temporary flexible arrangements and maximum permissible co-financing under the EU Emergency Crisis Reserve, CAP, and allocations from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve to be utilised to combat the current on-farm input crisis.

ICMSA President Pat McCormack said: “We have had enough ‘soft words’ on the Government’s desire to help Irish farming make the transition to greater sustainability. Budget 2023 must demonstrate a real commitment to match action to that oft-proclaimed sentiment.”

The ICMSA seeks the introduction of an income volatility management tool called the ‘Family Farm Fairness Mechanism’, the basic concept being that a farmer can set aside monies tax free in a good year to be utilised in a future year when farm income is under pressure.

The ICMSA says “it is essential” that all Less equipment has no VAT applied at purchase to encourage the uptake of these spreading techniques; that a rebate system be introduced for farmers who use protected urea; and VAT reduction should also be applied on all renewable energy products.

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