Some €5m has been allocated to a new farm safety scheme by the Government which will allow farmers to offset the cost of farm safety equipment against their tax bill.

Anti-backing gates for cattle, chemical storage cabinets, tractor jacking systems and wheelchair restraints are measures which will be included in the scheme.

Farmers who take part in the scheme will be able to offset 50% of the cost of equipment in year one and 50% in year two against their tax bill.

The Department of Agriculture will operate the scheme and there will be an annual total equipment cost of €5m, excluding VAT.

What equipment is included in the scheme?

500kg bag lifter

A lifting system for bags of fertiliser or seed of 500kg mass or greater. The system shall be mounted on either the three-point linkage of an agricultural tractor, front loader of a tractor or mounted on a fertiliser or seed drill.

The lifter shall be capable of securely holding the bag and raising the bag over a fertiliser spreader or seed drill. The system may have an integral system for automatically opening the bag.

Hydraulic linkage arms mounted tractor jacking systems

A tractor jacking system that uses either the rear- or front-mounted lower linkage arms to enable an agricultural tractor to be lifted, so that one or more wheels may be replaced on the agricultural tractor.

Animal anti-backing gate for use in cattle crush or race

The anti-backing gate can be fitted on the side of a cattle crush or race to prevent stock from reversing along crush. It will be either automatically or manually moved into position once an animal has passed.

Quick-hitch mechanism for rear and front three-point linkage

This will allow the hitching of machinery and implements without need to descend from tractor.

It will be connected to the three-point hydraulic linkage of the agricultural tractor and enable the agricultural tractor to link to an implement.

Lift, hoist or integrated ramp to farm vehicles

This will allow for the provision of an integrated ramp, lift or hoist to allow access to a farm vehicle by a person with a disability. The system may incorporate a modified side or rear entry to enable access.

Wheelchair restraints and/or docking station

Farmers who use a wheelchair can buy wheelchair restraints and/or a wheelchair docking station for a farm vehicle under the scheme.

Chemical storage cabinets

A storage cabinet fitted with a locking device and integral bung for the storage of pesticides and other chemicals. The cabinet may be made of metal or hard plastic, or a combination of both.

The cabinet shall be suitably vented to prevent a build-up of fumes.

Modified controls to enable full hand operation of a farm vehicle

This will allow for the extensive reconfiguration of primary controls necessary to enable a farm vehicle to be driven and operated by a person with a disability.

Modified seating to enable operation of a farm vehicle

This will allow for the provision of an extensively modified seat to enable operation of a farm vehicle by a person with a disability.

Additional steps to farm vehicles or machinery

For easier access to farm vehicles or machinery, farmers can apply to the scheme for additional steps.

Modified farm vehicle or machinery controls to enable control by hand or foot

This will allow for the extensive reconfiguration of controls necessary to enable a farm vehicle or farm machinery to be operated by a person with a disability.

Hydraulically located lower three-point linkage arms

This will allow for the provision of a hydraulic system to control the location of the lower three-point linkage arms of a farm vehicle.

How the scheme will work

The Department of Finance has outlined that under the taxation system operated by Revenue, capital allowances may be claimed on capital expenditure incurred on certain types of business assets and business premises.

Such capital allowances may be claimed at a rate of 12.5% over eight years for plant and machinery.

This €5m farm safety scheme is for accelerated capital allowances of 50% per year for two years, which may be claimed in respect of the capital expenditure incurred on eligible equipment.

This accelerated capital allowance scheme would be subject to a total equipment cost of €5m per annum excluding VAT (with a total up front estimated tax expenditure cost of €1.5m per annum).

For the purposes of ensuring the €5m (excluding VAT) total equipment cost per annum ceiling is not breached, the Department of Agriculture would issue a farm safety adaptation accelerated capital allowance certificate for submission to Revenue in support of such claims.

The issuing of this certificate by the Department of Agriculture would not imply entitlement to the accelerated capital allowances.

It would be the responsibility of all claimants to familiarise themselves with relevant provisions of the tax code, including but not limited to eligibility conditions.

Farm incidents

The Minister of State with responsibility for farm safety Martin Heydon said that he is absolutely determined that farmers who have suffered a life-changing injury are not left behind.

“With this proposal I want to support these farmers and help them get back to work. This is more than just about enabling people to getting back to farming, but also about improving their physical and mental wellbeing,” he said.

Between 2010 and 2019, there were 214 fatal incidents on farms. Of these, 65 involved a farm vehicle, 39 involved machinery and 39 involved livestock.

These three areas accounted for 67% of all fatal incidents on farms. The age profile of those killed is also a serious concern, with the old and the young exceptionally vulnerable to death and injury on Irish farms.

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