Farmers endure their share of Budget pain
But there was better news for Bord Bia, which saw a 6 per cent increase in its grant aid, to €29 million. Coveney said he was prioritising the food board “because they are the body that’s helping us to find and develop new markets”.
And the news was good for young farmers, with a focus on measures designed to help them get established. There was a brief panic when young farmer stamp duty relief was not mentioned in the Budget and it was assumed that it had not been renewed but Coveney later clarified that it had been retained.
Macra na Feirme president Alan Jagoe said this measure was important to facilitate farm transfer and to support the next generation of Irish farmers.
“The retention of these tax reliefs in their current format is critical to the ongoing restructuring of primary agriculture and allowing the industry to capitalise on future growth potential,” he said.
There was also a welcome for the widening of the definition of registered farm partnerships. Instead of just dairy farm partnerships, farmers involved in beef, sheep and tillage can avail of enhanced stock relief by setting up partnerships.
Prof Cathal O’Donoghue, head of Teagasc’s rural economy and development programme, said this was a welcome change as many farmers had expressed an interest in farming together. He said Teagasc would be announcing a plan early next year to further increase the uptake of farm partnerships and other collaborative arrangements such as share farming, leasing and producer groups.
Teagasc’s collaborative farming specialist Ben Roche, who helped to establish the milk production partnership scheme, said farmers working in partnership were likely to have a more sustainable future. This was due to factors such as the opportunity to increase scale, better management decisions, improved skills mix and a better lifestyle.
While acknowledging the positive measures in the Budget, ICMSA president John Comer said that farmers and the wider agri-food sector would consider it to be regressive and to have added to farmers’ woes.
He said farm families were paying for the “don’t touch” guarantees given to public servants in the Croke Park agreement. “The untenable nature of the Croke Park agreement has been illustrated once again and its core principle underlined. Those who are already untouchable will remain untouchable and all the rest must take the pain,” he said.
“It’s grossly unfair.”
Budget 2012 The good news
- Taxation measures to encourage the transfer of land and the restructuring of farms
- The extension of the farm partnership scheme
- Relief from excise duty on auto diesel for licensed road hauliers
- €116 million for a 7,000 hectare forestry planting programme
- Increased funding for animal welfare organisations
. . . and the bad
- The suckler cow welfare scheme has been abolished
- Lowland farmers with more than 70 acres will lose out in the disadvantaged areas scheme
- Farmers’ flat rate VAT rebate cut from 5.2 per cent to 4.8 per cent from January
- Reduced funding for sheep grassland scheme
- More restrictive criteria for the Farm Assist income support scheme