In light of next week's budget, Sinn Féin has outlined a proposed budget including a total of €165.5m for the agricultural sector.

The party’s alternative budget promises to deliver a suckler payment of up to €300 per cow-calf pair at a cost to the taxpayer of €71.3m.

This would provide a suckler payment of €300 for the first cow-calf pair up to 15, €150 for the second cow-calf pair after 15, and €80 for the remainder up to 100.

The budget includes €25m to be spent on areas of natural constraint and an increased investment of €15m to be spent on organic farming.

It also includes an increase of €14.4m for the Sheep Improvement Scheme, ensuring €20 per ewe is secured, as well as increasing investment in the farm assist income by €6m with an income disregard of 50%.

A €6.8m increase to maintain the existing agri-diesel tax relief into 2023 has been included, as well as €3m for the commencement of a new system of farm-by-farm carbon audits.

New proposals for funding for agricultural shows and the establishment of an agricultural student hardship fund have been included with a budget of €0.3m each.

Capital expenditure measures

An increase in the animal welfare budget to €2m, a Low Emission Slurry Spreading grant of €6.7m and a national hedgerow survey and enhancement fund of €1m have been included under capital expenditure measures.

Some €5.5m has also been included here to compensate 'forgotten farmers' with 50% restoration this year.

Cost of living measures

Among Sinn Féin’s priority cost-of-living measures for 2022 is increasing emergency supports for farmers.

The party is proposing that funding is increased by €30m this year to provide emergency supports for the agricultural sector to maximise European crisis reserve co-financing.

"In a climate of such great uncertainty, Government should offer worried households a small number of basic certainties.

"A Sinn Féin Government would use this opportunity to assure householders, firstly, [that] their electricity bills will be reduced and capped back to 2021 levels and, secondly, that they will not rise this winter," Sinn Féin said.

Among their other priorities include cutting household electricity bills and cap them at 2021 levels, reducing childcare fees for parents by two-thirds and increasing social welfare rates and guaranteeing the right to retire on a pension at 65.