IFA second most active lobbying organisation on official register
The IFA reported 183 individual lobbying activites since September 2015 - the second most active lobbyist after the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (Ibec) on the official register.

The Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015, which came into effect in Ireland on 1 September 2015, requires those who lobby public officials to register and report on their political lobbying activities online at lobbying.ie

All registered lobbying activities from 1 January to 30 April have been released this week, with agri-related lobbying activities reported by the IFA, Macra na Feirme, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Association (ICSA), Ibec and the Irish Co-operative Society (ICOS).

Concerns about a Mercosur trade deal were across the board. The IFA lobbied An Taoiseach Enda Kenny to make the argument in the EU that a Mercosur deal would be extremely damaging for Irish and European agriculture, and particularly for Ireland’s beef sector. Ibec also lobbied for the protection of the Irish meat sector in EU-Mercosur trade negotiations, while ICSA wanted to ensure that no offer was made on tariff trade quotas by the EU.

Superlevy

ICOS urged the Minister for Agriculture to alleviate the cashflow burden on Irish dairy farms by deferring outstanding superlevy bills for an additional year. They continuously raised the need to secure stronger supports at EU level for dairy markets, while also presenting a taxation proposal aimed at alleviating the effect of dairy market volatility on farmer income.

Slaney/ABP

In the beef and sheep sectors, the IFA lobbied for more competition in the marketplace, and against the ABP investment in Slaney Meats/Irish Country Meats. To protect and guarantee competition in the processing and rendering sectors in Ireland, they asked former Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to intervene and make a submission to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) on the proposed investment by ABP.

Other recent lobbying activities by the IFA included the need for a national deer management programme surrounding TB outbreaks, binding EU legislation by the Commission for the prevention of unfair trading practices in the food supply chain, the formation of a Pig Industry Forum and the elimination of EU fertiliser tariffs and import duties at the next Agriculture Council meeting in June.

Cattle identification

Ibec lobbied for innovation in cattle identification to ensure that future cattle ID tags also cater for sampling for genomics.

Meanwhile, the ICSA wanted the EU to ensure that the country-of-origin labelling for beef is not manipulated by retailers at the expense of primary producers.

The most recent lobbying activities registered by Macra na Feirme included more prompt payments for young farmers, in both the BPS and young farmer top-up. The inclusion of “old” young farmers in the relevant schemes was also a concern, and the need for the European dairy fund top-up for young dairy farmers.

Read more

Details of Mercosur offer starting to filter out

Minister Creed putting pressure on Hogan to suspend superlevy

Varadkar pledges income tax cuts and more forestry on farms
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has addressed tax equality and the role of agriculture in climate change in a speech as Fine Gael party leader.

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has promised to achieve tax equality between self-employed and PAYE workers and singled out on-farm forestry and the modernisation of Bord na Móna as priorities to tackle climate change.

Speaking at the Fine Gael Árd Fheis in Dublin this Saturday, Taoiseach Varadkar mentioned existing tax and pension measures in favour of farmers and other self-employed workers, but added: "We're not done yet."

Drawing from the experience of Fine Gael members surrounding him on stage, he first addressed the "hopes and fears for the future" of Kevin, a farmer from Co Leitrim.

Full equality

"Now we want there to be full equality for the self-employed and businesspeople when it comes to income tax," he said. "There’s no reason why someone who is self-employed should pay more income tax than those of use who are PAYE."

The 2016 programme for government committed to increasing the earned income tax credit to €1,650 for the self-employed by 2018, but the recent Budget 2019 fell short of that, at €1,350.

As he seeks to extend the confidence and supply agreement with Fianna Fáil, An Taoiseach pledged to close the gap if Fine Gael stayed in government.

He also promised to increase the point at which people pay the top rate of tax to €50,000 for a single person, up from €35,300 in Budget 2019, in the interest of "fairness" for those earning average incomes.

Transform some of our farms from carbon emitters into carbon sinks that produce timber

Taoiseach Varadkar said Ireland had to move from "laggard to leader" on climate change. "We must and we will meet our 2030 targets for carbon emissions and renewable energy and we’ll do this by transforming Bord na Móna into a green semi-state generating renewable energy and managing waste rather than generating carbon," he said.

Another key environmental measure will entail "investing in forestry to transform some of our farms from carbon emitters into carbon sinks that produce timber products which in turn help us to reduce plastics," he added.

Brexit

On Brexit, he supported the draft withdrawal agreement negotiated between the EU and the UK. "Let’s seal the deal and let’s get on to the next phase, which is managing the transition period and negotiating a new deep and close relationship with the UK," he said.

Read more

Farmers protest fresh forestry expansion in Co Leitrim

Budget 2019: €200 increase in earned income credit for the self-employed

Understanding your 2018 tax bill

‘Factories need to make a profit’ – An Taoiseach

Five reasons you need to be at Dairy Day
The Irish Farmers Journal's Dairy Day takes place in the Punchestown Event Centre from 9am on Tuesday 20 November.

1. Skills Hub

The Skills Hub will be running all day. It aims to showcase best practise and the efficiencies required to run a dairy farm in Ireland today.

2. Calf Shed Talks

There is no animal more important than the young dairy calf on a farm. Journal vet Tommy Heffernan has a packed schedule of practical demonstrations at the Calf Shed Talks.

3. Beyond The Parlour sessions

The Irish dairy industry is vibrant, growing and looking for new opportunities. Where is the future for added value in the dairy chain? What milk prices can farmers expect in five and 10 years time?

4. Goodie bag

Get your special show bag with the new Irish Dairy Farmer magazine in it.

5. KT-approved

And, best of all it is a Knowledge Transfer-approved event.

Farmers protest fresh forestry expansion in Co Leitrim
Protesters call for environmental study before any more conifers are planted in the county.

Members of the IFA and the Save Leitrim campaign group staged a joint protest at the site of a new forestry plantation in Carrigallen, Co Leitrim, on Saturday.

IFA Leitrim chair James Gallagher told the Irish Farmers Journal that a farm is being planted with conifers at the site, and the IFA will display the same opposition to any new such projects in Co Leitrim until an independent study of the impact of forestry expansion in the county is completed.

"A resolution from Leitrim went to the IFA national council in September asking that there would be no new plantations without a full environmental survey," Gallagher said.

Major concern

After the national council endorsed the resolution at the time, IFA president Joe Healy said that the level of afforestation in recent years, particularly by non-farmers and outside investors, was of major concern to local farmers and rural communities.

"Leitrim has 18.9% of forest cover at the moment, the highest in the country," Gallagher said. When hilltops and other areas unsuitable for planting are taken out, he estimated that half the agricultural land in the county is now planted.

"Leitrim will not be the carbon sink for the whole country," he said.

He added that the IFA was still lobbying for the independent study to be carried out, but this had not started yet.

Read more

Forestry dominates Leitrim CAP meeting

Drystock farmers should plant forestry on their wetter fields – Department

Afforestation payments to non-farmers doubled in past two years