500 extra permits for meat factory workers
The previous quota for meat operatives was set to soon be exhausted.

An additional 500 work permits for non-EEA citizens have been granted by the Department of Business for meat-processing operatives.

A pilot scheme announced by the Department in May this year allowed for 500 horticulture work permits, 250 meat-processing permits and 50 dairy worker permits.

However, there was a surge in demand for meat-processing permits, as factories had made 315 labour permit applications by 4 June.

It is critical that there are adequate numbers of trained staff

“The extension of the pilot scheme for meat-processing operatives will ensure that the sectors immediate labour difficulties are addressed and the potential that a lack of available labour could constrict growth is minimised,” Minister for Business Heather Humphreys said.

“With the opening up of new markets, such as to China, it is critical that there are adequate numbers of trained staff to meet the demands of this highly lucrative market for Irish meat exports.

“In the longer-term, sectors experiencing labour shortages need to take action to attract and retain labour supply from within Ireland and across Europe, and to invest in innovative technologies for the sector.”

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New training course for dairy start-up farmers announced

Creed's plan to address dairy labour shortage

Finance bill: you can give a site tax-free to your child and their spouse
The details of Budget 2019 include an extension of the tax exemption for parents who give land for their child to build a home.

The finance bill published on Thursday by Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe extends the capital gains tax (CGT) relief available to parents who give a site to their child so that they can include the child's spouse or partner in the transaction.

Existing legislation lets parents give land to their child without paying CGT up to a maximum of one acre and a valuation of €500,000, on the condition that the child builds their principal private residence on the site.

Under current rules, only the child can benefit from the tax-free transfer. If their spouse or partner becomes co-owner of the property, they lose the tax exemption.

From 1 January 2019, the finance bill provides that "‘child’ shall be deemed to include the spouse or civil partner of the child concerned" in such cases. The change will help the many farming families who transfer a piece of land from the parents' farm to a child who builds a home to move into as a couple.

The Oireachtas must now pass the finance bill before the measure becomes law.

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New lifetime limit on young farmer tax relief

Farmers gain €189m from agri-taxation measures

Regulator to review controversial Shannon water pipeline project
The Government has asked the utilities watchdog to conduct a review of Irish Water's proposed pipe to carry water to Dublin through farmers' land.

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy has asked the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) to carry out a review of Irish Water's Eastern and Midlands Water Supply Project before decides whether to give his green light to construction.

The review and the Minister's decision relate to Government spending on the investment, and are separate from the planning permission process. The CRU is the State's independent regulator for the energy and water sectors.

The 170km pipeline proposed by Irish Water would bring water from the river Shannon's Parteen basin to the capital.

Map of the Eastern and Midlands Water Supply Project.

IFA environment chair Thomas Cooney said it was important for the review to assess the need for the pipe against other options.

"This is a huge imposition on the 500 landowners along the way," Cooney told the Irish Farmers Journal, taking a up a 50m-wide corridor during construction and leaving permanent infrastructure such as sluice valves in the long term.

"It's like an underground motorway and we'd want to make sure it's absolutely needed," Cooney added, hoping for an opportunity for farmers to make submissions.

We are confident that Irish Water's plans will not stand up to proper scrutiny

Liam Minehan, who farms on the route of the proposed pipeline in Co Tipperary and participates in the opposition group Fight the Pipe, said the group had been looking for a review for a long time and hoped it would be fully independent.

"We are confident that Irish Water's plans will not stand up to proper scrutiny," Minehan said.

A statement from the Department of Housing said the review was needed "given the scale and importance of the Eastern and Midlands Water Supply Project and recognising the CRU’s statutory role as independent economic regulator of Irish Water".

Irish Water has described the project as "the option which delivers the widest benefit to the greatest number of people, with the least environmental impact and in the most cost-effective manner".

Read more

Listen: Tipperary farmers to fight the pipe

€1.3bn plan to draw water from river Shannon to Dublin

'Sheep stealer the worst thing to call a farmer in rural Ireland'
A court in Donegal this week heard that to be called a sheep stealer is the worst thing a farmer can be called in rural Ireland, writes Stephen Maguire.

A solicitor has told a court that to be called a "sheep stealer" is the worst thing a farmer can be called in rural Ireland.

Solicitor Patsy Gallagher was speaking at Falcarragh District in Co Donegal after his client had been charged with handling 35 stolen lambs.

John McBride (47) of 11 Firmount, Milford, Co Donegal, pleaded guilty to a total of 35 sample charges.

Stigma

Solicitor Patsy Gallagher told the court there was a “stigma” attached to the offence, saying "to be called a sheep stealer in rural Donegal is the worst”.

Garda Enda Jennings said that in April 2017, he had been approached by a local farmer, Michael Cullen, who informed him that 76 of his lambs had been stolen.

He had carried out an investigation and lambs had been traced to a location at Carrownagannonagh in Milford and after getting a warrant they seized 37 lambs.

McBride claimed the sheep and lambs were his and told gardaí that he had bought the lambs from a man who he had failed to identify.

He said he bought the lambs for €20 each although the court was told that lambs cost €50 each and the accused should have known the real value.

No suspicion

Defending solicitor Patsy Gallagher said his client, who was on social welfare, had paid the money for the lambs but there had been no suspicion that he had been involved in the theft of them. He had bought them with the intention of selling them on.

Pointing out that McBride was “deeply remorseful” for his actions, Gallagher repeated that he had had “no hand or part” in the theft of the livestock.

Referring to the “stigma” to such incidents within the farming community, the solicitor claimed: “To be called a sheep stealer in rural Donegal is the worst”.

Judge Paul Kelly said there might have been more sympathy for the defendant if he had assisted the gardaí with their investigation initially.

Consequences

“He is dealing with the consequences of failing to co-operate.”

Taking to the witness stand, Mr Cullen told the court he had 76 lambs stolen in total.

He went on to claim that Mr McBride had been working at the mart in Milford and was not unemployed.

On the 35 sample charges before the court, Judge Kelly sentenced the defendant to three months imprisonment suspended for two years on his own bond of €250.

He also ordered the defendant to meet the costs incurred by the gardaí in transporting the lambs, totalling €3,300, and also the costs of €6,423 to the Department of Agriculture in the case.