I think it might have been because of the euphoria of being back among farming colleagues at the National Ploughing Championships that I actually believed the politicians.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Simon Coveney were welcome visitors at different times to the Irish Farmer’s Journal stand at the Ploughing.

They mentioned the importance of farming and the need for special measures for small businesses and the recognition that farmers were businesses too.

While they didn’t say the word promise, it sure sounded like some targeted measures for all farm families might be in the €11bn giveaway budget.

While the continuation of young farmer schemes is welcome, I’ve searched the blurb and found nothing specifically targeted for all farmers.

There are some sectorial measures for farmers and welcome initiatives designed to ease the cost of living on all citizens and we fall into those thankfully.

In terms of high input costs of feed and fertiliser and crippling fuel costs that farmers and contractors are experiencing, there were no special measures.

As I listened to the broadcast, I felt that nothing much had changed for farmers until I heard the 10% levy on concrete.

I did a double-take. This directly hits farmers who want to make changes or developments on their farms.

The levy on concrete will be a deterrent to progress on farms.

Small jobs like the instillation of a crush, the repair of a yard, the extension of an apron in front of a silage pit or a footpath can make a huge difference to the everyday working of that farm.

The 10% levy hurts farmers across the board for any development that they might undertake.

Capacity for stock and slurry storage will be reduced responding to new budget constraints.

This levy hurts young people

The 10% levy hurts all our young people trying to get on the property ladder.

This particular cohort suffered during COVID-19. Their weddings were delayed, their opportunities to meet people were hugely curtailed, their working lives were turned upside down.

They made plans to build houses of a certain size. Rooms that were labelled bedrooms have been renamed offices.

The prices of homes and building materials soared. Their plans had to be redrawn and revisited.

It’s a negative move and blow for young people who are trying to buy or build their first home.

Julie and Dave have cleared their site in west Cork and Colm and Elaine hope to do the same this side of Christmas.

I hate to see a measure like this in a budget that really affects young people starting out.

Apparently this levy will bring in €80m/year to the Exchequer. It’s reported that at least €4bn will be needed to fix the thousands of homes effected by the pyrite and mica problems.

I have huge sympathy for these people too. We travelled around the Inishowen peninsula during July 2021 and saw some of the houses affected by the mica problem. I took a picture of one home that was uninhabited.

You almost have to see the houses crumbling to have a true understanding of it. The images have stayed with me.

I imagine a family of little children having to get out of their lovely home that they so enjoyed planning and building because it was unsafe. These children will be nearly ready to leave home before the houses are eventually sorted.

In a sinister way, all these peoples’ submissions will have to be revisited too to accommodate this new levy.

I think the targeting of this levy towards young people is unfortunate.

The high viz queues are back

Meanwhile, it is good to see the construction industry back on its feet.

I went into our local supermarket the other day and noticed a long queue of lads in high viz jackets looking for their lunch rolls.

A day later I was in a service station near the city and there was the yellow queue again. Cranes are once again more visible in the skies. It’s a real sign of a country on the move. Will this new levy slow things down when new homes and apartments are so critically needed? There surely is a better way to spread this burden of redress for deserving people. CL

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