Launching the IFA’s pre-budget submission IFA president Tim Cullinan has said the document provides a blueprint for Government to follow if it genuinely wants to guarantee the future viability of Ireland’s largest indigenous sector.

Uncertain future

“Farmers across all sectors are facing an increasingly uncertain future. Increasing regulation, Brexit-related trade disruption, and the prospect of substantial cuts in direct payments due to CAP reforms means Irish farming is in a perilous position,” he said.

“Now is the time for Government to step up and put action and money behind the rhetoric. The IFA is seeking co-financing to ensure that Pillar II schemes such as Areas of Natural Constraint (ANCs); Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environmental Scheme (GLAS); Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS); Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP); the Sheep Welfare Scheme and Organic Farming Scheme are properly funded. We are seeking €300 per suckler cow, €30 per ewe and €300m for ANCs.

“In addition, we need a new scheme for tillage farmers to stop the exodus from this sector,” Cullinan added.

We are still waiting for this commitment to be honoured

“The Government gave a clear commitment that it would ringfence €1.5bn of carbon tax receipts for an agri-environment scheme, referred to in the Programme for Government as ‘REPS-2’. We are still waiting for this commitment to be honoured.

Farmers part of the solution

“The IFA has made it clear that farmers are eager to be part of the climate solution. Accelerated capital allowances and value-added tax (VAT) exemptions on the purchase of emissions-efficient investment will help farmers to play their role in contributing to the sector’s climate change targets," said the IFA President.

“Renewal of the Young Trained Farmer Stamp Duty Relief post-2021 is also needed to encourage farm transfer and generational renewal,” he added.

Significant support needed

Chair of the IFA Farm Business Committee Rose Mary McDonagh said: “In June, the IFA held a nationwide Day of Action to highlight farming’s contribution to the rural economy.

“Our message to Government has not changed. The sustainable growth of our sector needs policies that encourage investment at farm level, and recognise the role of agriculture in achieving balanced regional development and viable farm incomes.

“We need significant taxation supports, in particular through investment in emissions-efficient equipment and the removal of discrimination in our tax system for the self-employed,” she added.

Increased flexibility

IFA Rural Development chair Michael Biggins said farm schemes must remain an integral part of Government policy, especially for the low-income drystock sector.

“Direct payments are a huge part of family farm incomes. Targeted schemes are increasingly important.

“Expenditure on TAMS is currently behind target, with approximately 60% of the revised allocation of €523m spent to date.

“There needs to be increased flexibility along with the inclusion of additional qualifying investments to ensure all funding is drawn down," he said.

In the coming weeks, IFA officers are due to meet TDs and senators at local level as part of their campaign.