Action on beef factory specs and reducing the USC were included in the ICSA’s proposals for budget 2017.

At a meeting with Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed in Portlaoise, ICSA president Patrick Kent said that, given the current income crisis, it is essential to ensure a better delivery of funds to farmers.

ICSA beef chair Edmond Phelan called for action on the issue of beef factory specs, including the 30 months, weight limits and the four residencies: “The only people not making money in the beef industry are those who are actually producing the beef.”

With regards to taxation, general secretary Eddie Punch said earned income tax credit should be brought fully in line with employee tax credits, the USC should be reduced and capital acquisition tax thresholds should be increased.

BDGP funding

Other proposals include extra funding for farmers in the BDGP scheme for weighing calves on a voluntary basis. “This is the best way of getting real, accurate information about which cows are performing and will take away a lot of the mythology,” said suckler chair Dermot Kelleher.

On the issue of TAMS, sheep vice chair Dan Kelleher called for a speedy implementation of the new sheep scheme and for more flexibility around the sheep fencing measure in TAMS, which would allow farmers to carry out the works in stages and get grant-aided in stages as well.

“Sheep farmers do not have the cashflow to fund large-scale, expensive sheep fencing while waiting for grant payments,” he said.

Areas of Natural Constraint

The ICSA also called for a full restoration of the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) payment to its previous levels.

Rural development chair Seamus Sherlock said: “We need to see the total allocation increased to €257m from some €190m per annum as soon as possible. The ICSA is also looking for immediate movement on the issue of hen harrier designation payments.

“Locally led schemes are taking too long to get in place and we need support in terms of planners to get these schemes off the ground. Other than that, an NPWS scheme should be put in place, but one thing is clear – we cannot allow the lack of compensation for designation to drag on.”

Mr Sherlock added that the Minister seemed supportive of the issue.

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