Farmers to get help with energy bills and moves to biodiversity

Budget 2023: Minister extends specific reliefs for farmers as departmental allocation rises €283m to top €2bn

Farmers will get supports similar to small businesses to help them cope with energy costs this winter. The measure will compensate farmers based on energy usage and will be part of the business energy support scheme.

As with other businesses, it will be subject to a €10,000 monthly cap for each farmer. Farmers will be able to claim up to 40 per cent of the increase in their energy bills as long as those bills have jumped by more than 50 per cent over the past year.

It will run between this month to at least February and will be paid on the basis of how energy prices over that period compare between this year and last. It will be implemented by the Revenue Commissioners.

Dairy farmers have been especially affected by steep rises in the cost of electricity as milking parlours are particularly energy-intensive.


IFA president Tim Cullinan said he was pleased the Government had acknowledged that farmers should be included in supports to deal with energy costs. “We are waiting to see the full detail on how the scheme will be operated,” he said.

The overall budget for the Department of Agriculture will rise to €2.14 billion next year, an increase of €283 million on the 2022 allocation. Some €238 million is being added to the Brexit Adjustment Reserve to alleviate the impact of the UK’s departure from the European Union on the sector.

Accelerated capital allowances for the building of modern slurry facilities have been included in the budget.

Agriculture is facing many of the same challenges as the rest of the economy, but the cost of energy is also having a significant impact on the cost of fertiliser.

To help farmers deal with high fertiliser prices, an enhanced multispecial sward/red clover scheme designed to incentivise farmers to diversify the types of grass they grow has been announced.

There will also be a new €8 million grant aid scheme to support the spreading of lime which enhances grass growth and makes artificial fertiliser more efficient.

There will be a new €10 million tillage incentive scheme which the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue announced at the National Ploughing Championships last week.

The Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme Sucklers, which cost €28 million, is being replaced by a similar scheme with the same level of funding. The existing scheme was introduced in 2020 to increase the economic and environmental efficiency of the suckler herd. The revised arrangement will sit alongside a new €150/cow suckler carbon efficiency scheme in the new Common Agricultural Policy which comes into place next year until 2027.

A new fodder support scheme, which will pay farmers up to €1,000 to save hay and fodder, has also been announced.

The scheme is designed to incentivise farmers to grow sufficient grass and conserve fodder (silage and/or hay) for the 2022 winter due to the impact of the Ukraine war and its consequential effect on the price of agricultural inputs, in particular energy and chemical fertiliser.

A total of €20 million in funding has been secured for 30,000 places in the proposed Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme for 2023. This new €1.5 billion agri-environment scheme will be a farmer-friendly programme to help address biodiversity decline while delivering income support for farm families in Ireland.

Five agricultural tax reliefs that were due to expire this year — the Young Trained Farmer and Farm Consolidation Stamp Duty Reliefs, the Farm Restructuring CGT relief, and the Young Trained Farmer and Registered Farm Partnership Stock Reliefs — will be retained.

There will be extra funding for farm modernisation supports through Tams (Targeted Agriculture Modernisation Schemes), forestry and organics as well as the new and enhanced suckler and sheep supports.

There will also be specific capital funding to support the development of anaerobic digestion next year to provide alternative sources of energy for farmers.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times