The increase in the carbon tax scheduled for 1 May will “add fuel to a fire that is already out of control” when it comes to cost increases for farmers and those living in rural Ireland, says Jackie Cahill TD.
Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, the Fianna Fáil TD said that farmers and agricultural contractors “are at their wits end on whether they can get books balanced and stay afloat,” and that any increase in the carbon tax on fuel consumed will add to “a vicious spiral of cost increases”.
The Irish Farmers Journal understands that an email outlining these concerns from the TD, who is also chair of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee, was read out at the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday night as Cahill could not attend in person.
A number of other rural TDs in the party supported his call to have the tax increase postponed for six months.
However, it is also understood that a number of Fianna Fáil TDs believe Government should stay on track with the tax on fossil fuel consumption and increase the carbon tax as planned.
Deputy Cahill said that while he is not against the carbon tax and even though it’ll be ringfenced, “now is not the time to have cost increases”.
He said the tax increase would be “plain wrong” until fuel prices have “stabilised and come back to a more normal level”.
In the Dáil on Tuesday, Cahill’s Fianna Fáil party leader, Taoiseach Micheál Martin, said the carbon tax increase would be "offset" so that there would not be additional costs for rural households.
The Taoiseach defended his Government's position dealing with the energy crisis and said that the Government had cut excise and has provided €200 for homeowner’s energy bills.
Meanwhile, Independent TD Danny Healy Rae told the Dáil on Wednesday that “people everywhere cannot believe that, notwithstanding the savage cost of fuel, that the Taoiseach would even consider raising [the carbon tax] further”.
“The Taoiseach knows it was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. This is the price that the country and the people of Ireland, young and old, have to pay so that the Taoiseach will have the continued support of the Green Party to remain Taoiseach.”
Elsewhere, the Association of Farm and Forestry Contractors (FCI) told TDs and senators at a meeting last week that the carbon tax on the fuel must be “abolished immediately” as the average contractor is now paying “€9,000 to €10,000 extra a year” due to the charge.
FCI chief executive Michael Moroney said that contractors have “no environmental alternatives” to using agricultural diesel currently and that this isn’t going to change for a number of years.