Farm leaders have welcomed new measures to support rural incomes as part of Budget 2023, but raised concerns around the ability of these measures to fully address emission mitigation requirements facing the sector.
IFA president Tim Cullinan recognised the new liming, multi-species swards schemes and the accelerated capital allowances for slurry storage, but maintained that “while these schemes are worthwhile, they fall a long way short of what will be needed to help farmers meet their climate targets.”
Cullinan also said the fodder, tillage and suckler schemes won’t be enough to mitigate the 40% increase in farm inputs, particularly for the low-income beef and sheep sectors.
He acknowledged the introduction of an energy scheme to support farmers who will be facing very significant bills over the winter months.
“IFA raised this issue when it became apparent that farmers were to be excluded. It would have been a serious omission if farmers could not avail of support to deal with rising energy costs. We are waiting to see the full details on how the scheme will be operated.”
The President of ICMSA, Pat McCormack, said that the Government had made a “reasonable effort” to respond across a whole range of issues, but also questioned the Government in its efforts to manage the transition to lower emissions.
McCormack said that the inclusion of farmers in the energy support measures was welcome “but no more than an honest recognition of the fact that particularly dairy farmers are such heavy consumers of energy and the dairy sector that those farmers have built is the main engine of most parts of our rural economy.
“Farmers have to have help on the cost of energy because their milk production is actually the economic energy for whole swathes of rural Ireland.”
ICSA president Dermot Kelleher welcomed the allocation for an additional suckler scheme as well as another year of the fodder support scheme, however, he said that beef finishers and sheep farmers will be very disappointed that there is no targeted support for them.
“The first point is that we lobbied hard against any change to the Agricultural Relief on Capital Acquisitions Tax being reduced from 90% to 80% and any reduction on the thresholds. At least that has paid off with no change but in reality, the thresholds should be increasing in line with increased values,” Kelleher said.
In relation to fuel taxes, ICSA believes that not enough is being done to help the farming sector with the increase in diesel costs.
Macra National President John Keane said the consistency and continuity of young farmer tax reliefs are essential to support generational renewal.
“Macra had lobbied for the extension of these reliefs and drew attention to the EU’s review of State Aid support under the Agricultural Block Exemption Regulation which is due to expire on 31 December 2022,” he said.
“The timing of the review of the Agricultural Block Exemption Regulation remains concerning as it coincides with the expiry date of the current Irish young farmer tax reliefs and therefore must not impact on the orderly extension of both young farmer Stamp, Stock and Consolidation reliefs.”