The budget does little for farmers, Irish Cattle and Sheep Association (ICSA) president Dermot Kelleher highlighted.
He welcomed €15m in new funding for the sheep sector, but said it is clear that agriculture has fared badly overall.
“Over the last 12 months, the ICSA has left Minister McConalogue in no doubt that a payment of €12/ewe under the Sheep Improvement Scheme (SIS) was an insult.
“We welcome the increased funding for the sector, which will facilitate a payment of €20/ewe.”
However, he said it does not go far enough and ICSA will continue to campaign for higher payments for sheep farmers.
Budget 2024 was a “complete non-event” for farmers, according to Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) president Pat McCormack.
“There’s nothing here that shows the Government even understands the scale of [the] problem. All we seem to have got is a rollover of existing reliefs with some minor technical adjustments,” he said.
The Government has again, he argued, completely failed to recognise pressures on farmers, claiming there has been an “absolute vacuum” on supports for those affected by the cut to the derogation.
“Instead, we had been given some fanciful and missing-the-point tinkering towards providing grant aid for slurry storage to tillage farmers,” said McCormack.
Macra president Elaine Houlihan said she is disappointed that funding has not been given to farm succession.
“The taxation measures relating to farming in the budget, including the consanguinity relief and accelerated capital allowances for farm safety equipment are welcomed and provide recognition that a suite of measures, including taxation, that address generational renewal in Irish rural farming communities is vital in ensuring that our system of family farms is passed on to the next generation,” she said.
However, the Macra president expressed disappointment that the budget has not addressed “the long-standing issue of rural decline and demographic imbalance within the farming community”.
This year’s budget is “a long way short” of what is required to bolster a sector which is struggling with high input costs, lower commodity prices and unfavourable weather for many sectors, Irish Farmers Association (IFA) president Tim Cullinan said.
Farmers, he said, will be frustrated to see the farming budget reduced by 10% from €2.14bn to €1.94bn, while other Departments’ budgets have been increased.
“The increase expected for sheep farmers does acknowledge the difficulties they are experiencing, and is an important step. However, €30/ewe has to be the target if we are to have a sustainable sheep sector,” he said.
President of the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA), Vincent Roddy, has welcomed the budget announcement of an additional €8/ewe.
However, there is an urgent need to look again at the Brexit Adjustment Reserve and other similar sources with a view to delivering an additional payment of €30/ewe for all sheep farmers, he argued.
“In ACRES, we are looking at an additional spend of €32m which in Minister [for Public Expenditure Paschal] Donohoe’s own words will support 50,000 farmers. This will accommodate an additional 4,000 farmers, which we believe could be 15,000 short of where we need to be,” he said.