The Irish family farm model has long been the pride of our agri exports and marketers, the jewel in a crown which rightly rests atop a farming community that delivers the very best.
Irish farmers have long heard about their best-in-class produce and the unique nature of our farming system. A green, grass-based approach to sustainable food production that is only mirrored in a minority of countries across the globe.
Despite the sound bites we as farmers hear about the important role we have to play in climate change and increasing our environmental contribution, the stark reality is our Government seems committed to alienating farmers from taking the lead on meeting our climate-related ambitions and targets.
What we got from Budget 2022 was yet another missed opportunity
A prime example is the Budget announced last week. As young farmers, we want to meet climate change head on and put in place practices and technologies that can deliver on our sector’s climate targets.
What we got from Budget 2022 was yet another missed opportunity. We need our agriculture sector to become an attractive place for young people to work in and build careers.
Our ask from Budget 2022 was simple – deliver supports and schemes that allow us as young farmers to adopt and implement practices on our farms that drive both financial returns and environmental sustainability.
Budget 2022 failed yet again to deliver on VAT exemptions on sexed semen, on non-oral medicines and on forage and lab analysis.
Yet again, we see no appetite from this Government to support a functioning anaerobic digestion sector
Simple measures that would improve herd genetics, reduce our reliance on antibiotics and provide a greater understanding of disease interaction on-farm.
Yet again, we see no appetite from this Government to support a functioning anaerobic digestion sector. A win-win for farmers and the environment, offering an alternative income for farmers while improving our environmental impact.
What young people need is certainty, a clear pathway of development and support. The roll-over of key supports such as stock relief and stamp duty relief until the end of 2022 is welcome, but the onus is now on the Department of Agriculture to engage at EU level to ensure State aid rules facilitate their continuation beyond 2022.
Encouraging more young people into our sector is critical for its very survival.
What we as young farmers need is the Government to listen to our needs and work with us
Measures such as low cost unsecured loans, alongside enhanced payment rates for young farmers need to be included as part of a suite of measures to support young farmers.
What we as young farmers need is the Government to listen to our needs and work with us to design schemes and interventions that work for farmers and the environment, and ensure the long-term viability of our sector.