8.30pm: thanks for tuning in

Thank you for tuning into our live blog covering Budget 2024.

Pick up this week’s Irish Farmers Journal for a breakdown of the budget and to see what it means for farm incomes.

7.25pm: budget does little for farmers - ICSA

The budget does little for farmers, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) highlighted.

ICSA president Dermot Kelleher welcomed confirmation that €15m in new funding will be provided for the sheep sector in Budget 2024, but said it is clear agriculture has fared badly overall.

“Over the last 12 months, [the] ICSA has left Minister McConalogue in no doubt that a payment of €12 per 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 per ewe.

“However, while the increase is welcome, it does not go far enough and [the] ICSA will continue to campaign for higher payments for sheep farmers. Sheep farmers have been overlooked for too long,” he said.

Kelleher said his farm organisation awaits further detail on the beef scheme and on how a €200 payment per suckler cow can be achieved.

“Budget 2024 provided an opportunity for the Government to address the imbalance in farm incomes across the sectors.

"Our suckler, beef and sheep farmers are the lowest income earners per hectare by far. This budget will do little to address that imbalance,” he said.

6.41pm: Bord Bia gets 3% funding increase

Under Budget 2024, Bord Bia has received a budget increase of 3%, with €57m allocated to the State body for spending next year.

The funding for new market development will focus on a range of key markets for Irish farm produce.

6.33pm: farm safety allocated €2.5m

The Department of Agriculture has been allocated a budget of €2.5m for farm safety measures and schemes in Budget 2024.

The money will expand and build on a number of farm safety initiatives, according to Minister of State Martin Heydon.

He said the “biggest challenge” was to secure the funding, under his brief, and that now further detail will be worked out on how the resources will be used.

6.22pm: NPWS funding up 20%

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) funding allocation under Budget 2024 is up 20% on last year, Minister for Heritage Malcolm Noonan has confirmed.

In total, his Department has been given a budget of €166m for 2024.

“This funding will allow us to continue the transformation and renewal of the NPWS, as set out in the Government’s strategic action plan, with particular emphasis on conservation measures at our 600 natura sites designated under the EU’s nature directives and on protected species, as well as investment in our national parks and nature reserves for nature and public amenity, nature programmes in the wider countryside, and addressing wildlife crime,” he said.

The minister said that the funding will progress an expand the programme of biodiversity investment and the restoration and conservation of protected peatlands, including peatland compensation and restoration incentives in line with national biodiversity and climate action objectives.

5.45pm: Minister ‘ignoring key challenges’ - Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on agriculture Claire Kerrane said that Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has delivered a reduced budget, ignoring key challenges for farmers.

She argued that the overall budget is reduced for next year, with just €41m allocated for new measures, compared with Sinn Féin’s alternative budget which allocated an additional €199m in current and capital supports for the Department of Agriculture.

"This budget fails to recognise these challenges and provides for a reduced allocation, at a time when the budget should be going in the other direction.

"Yet again we have another budget that fails to mention the forgotten farmers, many of whom are coming to the end of their tether waiting for Government action. We provided for these young farmers in our alternative budget as a priority issue,” Deputy Kerrane said.

The Government, she added, has also repackaged several already allocated measures, presented in today’s announcement as funding for agri-environmental schemes.

“The announced funding for ACRES will likely see places in the scheme remain stagnant, rather than increasing in 2024. Measures around forestry have already been announced and offer nothing new,” she said.

She concluded by saying that this budget ignores the very many challenges facing farmers and is further evidence that this Government is not listening to them.

4.57pm: a ‘Goldilocks’ budget - Nolan TD

Carol Nolan TD has described Budget 2024 as “very much a Goldilocks budget that lacks ambition for Irish agriculture”.

The Independent TD for Laois-Offaly said farmers have been left with “little else but cold porridge from a Government that believes it has got the balance just right”.

“I think that for farmers there are very few bright spots in today’s budget, with the notable exception of the extension to the consultation period of residential land zoned tax and perhaps a tweaking of some of the tax measures such as those related to consanguinity and farm safety,” she said.

Deputy Nolan suggested that the Government missed an opportunity to “reassert” agriculture as having a central and primary role in the Irish economy.

“Instead, what we got was more fine talk coupled with a sense that nothing is really going to change in terms of policy or approach,” she said.

4.40pm: measures ‘greatly benefit farmers’ - ifac

ifac said that the farming measures announced in the budget will greatly benefit farmers, particularly young farmers.

ifac’s head of tax Marty Murphy welcomed the increase in the limit for the young trained farmers and succession partnerships from €70,000 to €100,000 and also the increase to the maximum amount of stock relief that can be claimed, going from €15,000 to €20,000.

The reduction in the flat rate to 4.8%, he added, is unexpected in a year where income is falling and costs, while stabilising, remain high.

3.55pm: €22.45m for agri research and innovation

The Department of Agriculture has been allocated a budget of €22.45m for designation to research and innovation projects in 2024 - up €2m on that designated in 2023.

It’s understood the funding will be aimed at driving research in the farm sector to aid the meeting of climate targets.

3.43pm: €56m for TB eradication

Budget 2024 includes an allocation of €56m for “evidence-based targeted bovine TB testing”.

The fund falls under the Department of Agriculture’s budget for food safety, animal and plant health and animal welfare and reflects reduced funding from the EU for Ireland’s TB eradication programme.

3.41pm: a ‘complete non-event’ – ICMSA

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 – still less want to solve them,” he said in reaction to the budget announcement.

“All we seem to have got is a rollover of existing reliefs with some minor technical adjustments.”

The ICMSA leader stated the Government has ‘again’ completely failed to recognise pressures on farmers, claiming there has been an “absolute vacuum” on supports for farmers affected by the cut to nitrates derogation stocking rates.

“Instead, we had been given some fanciful and missing-the-point tinkering towards providing grant aid for slurry storage to tillage farmers,” said McCormack.

3.22pm: minimum wage in agriculture

With the minimum wage increased to €12.70 in Budget 2024, the Low Pay Commission has published details on the numbers working on the minimum wage in the agriculture, forestry and food sector.

In 2022, 5,200 farm, forestry or food employees earned the minimum wage or less, down from 6,000 in 2021. The 5,200 figure last year equated to 3.4% of the sector’s total employees.

2.47pm: VAT cost to dairy farmers

For the average 100-cow milk supplier, the change to the flat-rate VAT compensation rate will cost €400/year.

2.40pm: Garda recruitment

The budget includes an allocation to facilitate the recruitment of 1,000 new gardaí, adding more guards on the ground in urban and rural areas.

2.38pm: Department budget

The Department of Agriculture has been allocated a total of €1.9bn for 2024, separate to the €1.2bn in CAP funding.

Minister Donohoe says that €700m of the €1.9bn will go towards the following schemes:

  • ACRES.
  • ANC.
  • Forestry.
  • Organic farming.
  • Other agri-environment schemes.
  • 2.37pm: TAMS funding for slurry storage

    Budget 2024 includes funding of a TAMS grant for farmers importing slurry to build additional storage.

    It’s understood the TAMS grant will be available at a rate of 70% and it is aimed at incentivising tillage and other non-dairy farmers to utilise slurry from the dairy sector.

    More detail on the measure is to be worked out, with the exact requirements for drawing down the grant being worked out by the Department of Agriculture.

    2.33pm: carbon tax funding

    The Department of Agriculture will receive an additional €32m in carbon tax funding up to €113,000, which will support up to 50,000 farmers to improve biodiversity, climate, air and water quality.

    2.31pm: €205m for rural development

    Funding of €205m has been announced for rural development to invest in rural, regional and local communities.

    2.30pm: limited number of new ACRES places

    The increase of €40m in the budget for ACRES in 2024 will see total places in the scheme remain around the initial target of 50,000 farmers.

    At an average payment of €6,000 per participant farm, there would be the potential to add over 6,500 more farmers to the 46,000 current participants.

    However, if funding for the recently launched non-productive investments has to come from the €40m additional budget, scheme place numbers will be much lower.

    2.24pm: Macra ‘disappointed’ over lack of farm succession fund

    Macra is the first farm organisation to share its initial views on Budget 2024.

    The young farmer organisation’s president Elaine Houlihan has told the Irish Farmers Journal that she is “disappointed that funding has not been given to succession, which is vitally important to increase the numbers of young farmers”.

    “However, we welcome the €25,000 increase in the lifetime relief threshold for young farmers, which is a move in the right direction, along with the extension of consanguinity relief,” she said.

    Houlihan went on to described the budget as a “mixed bag” overall.

    “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 which is the backbone of rural Ireland”.

    2.06pm: Junior and Leaving Cert fees

    State examination fees will be waived for students sitting Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate exams in 2024.

    The back to school allowance will be raised by €100 and there will be free junior cycle school books for recognised secondary schools.

    2.07pm: flat rate VAT

    Government has moved to reduce the flat-rate VAT compensation for farmers from 5% to 4.8% in 2024. This will cost farmers €18m next year.

    2.05pm: living supports

    All households will receive three electricity credits of €150 each between the end of this year and April 2024.

    A €300 lump sum to recipients of the fuel allowance is to be paid in the last quarter of 2023.

    And an extra €200 payment will be made for those in receipt of the living alone allowance.

    The regular Christmas bonus will be paid in early December.

    A once-off double social welfare payment will be made in January, including pensioners, carers, jobseekers and those on disability payments.

    A €400 lump sum payment will be made to those in receipt of a working family payment.

    A double payment will be made to those in receipt of the foster care allowance.

    2.04pm: €20m for beef scheme

    Budget 2024 includes a designation of €20m in funding for a “new beef scheme”.

    The detail of the scheme and funding is as yet unknown. The support payment for suckler farmers is aimed at bringing Government payments to €200/cow.

    1.59pm: €15m new funding for sheep farmers

    Budget 2024 includes €15m in new funding for the sheep sector.

    An €8/ewe payment is to be delivered, bringing total support to a payment of €20/ewe under various schemes.

    The €15m in new funding for the sheep sector will be rolled out to approximately 18,000 farmers, with around 1.8m ewes.

    The schemes for the €8/ewe payment are understood to include measures for flock shearing and health measures, with further details to come.

    1.43pm: consanguinity relief extended five years

    The Government is extending the period under which consanguinity relief applies on agricultural land transfers to up to five years.

    The move is aimed at delivering improved certainty around farm transfers and succession.

    Stock relief for farm partnerships increased from €15,000 to €20,000.

    Minister McGrath said that the land leasing income tax relief will be amended so that it only becomes available when the land has been owned for seven years, so that it is better targeted to active farmers.

    The maximum aggregate lifetime reliefs under a number of farming-related measures is to be increased to €100,000.

    1.42pm: price of cigarettes rises

    From midnight tonight, the price of a pack of 20 cigarettes will increase by 75c.

    1.39pm: organic budget of €57m

    The budget for the Organic Farming Scheme (OFS) for 2024 will be €57m, up €21m on the €36m allocated for 2023.

    The OFS is set to reopen in the coming weeks, with a target to bring 1,000 new organic conversion farmers into the scheme from January.

    There will then be some 5,100 farmers participating in the scheme.

    1.38pm: retirement relief

    In order to encourage the intergenerational transfer of farms, the upper age of 65 for relief has been increased to 70.

    The reduced relief, which will now be available for disposal from the age of 70, will come into effect from January 2025.

    There will also be a limit introduced of €10m on the relief available for disposals.

    1.37pm: carbon tax

    The carbon tax will rise from €48.50/t to €56/t from 11 October. This will result in a 2.5c/l rise on diesel and 2.1c/l on petrol.

    1.36pm: ACRES budget of €200m

    The budget for the ACRES scheme in 2024 will be €200m, up €40m on that for 2023.

    It is not yet known how many farmers this will facilitate for the second intake of the scheme this year. Some 46,000 farmers were accepted to the scheme in 2022.

    1.26pm: residential zoned land tax stalled

    Minister McGrath announces that the date from which landowners will be liable under the residential zoned land tax will be extended for a year, beyond 2024.

    The move is aimed at giving affected farmers and landowners more time to engage with their local authority regarding their eligibility under the tax.

    Minister McGrath said there should be fairness and transparency when it comes to how the tax is applied on landowners.

    The one-year liability extension comes following heavy criticism of the tax by farm organisations, including the IFA.

    1.27pm: Help to Buy scheme

    The Help to Buy scheme, which allows first time house builders relief of up to €30,000, has been extended to 2025.

    1.22pm: personal income tax cuts

    The minister has announced a personal income tax package to the value of €1.3bn.

    PAYE income tax credits and other credits will be increasing by €100 each.

    The standard rate income tax cut off will increase by €2,000 to €42,000.

    The 4.5% USC rate will also reduce to 4%.

    Minimum wage will increase to €12.70 per hour - an increase of €1.40.

    1.21pm: rent tax credit

    The rent tax credit is to increase from €500 to €750 in Budget 2024.

    The credit will be amended to include parents who pay for their student children who have tenancies in ‘rent a room’ or digs accommodation.

    1.19pm: last-minute changes

    Officials at Teagasc and the Department of Agriculture report that exact details for the budget allocation for the farm sector went down to the last minute, with specifics around organic funding still to be worked out in particular.

    1.18pm: Petrol and diesel excise

    The final increase in excise planned for petrol and diesel at the end of this month has been deferred until April 2024, when it will rise in two equal instalments.

    The 9% reduced rate of VAT for gas and electricity has been extended for a further 12 months until 31 October 2024.

    1.14pm: budget package

    Minister for Finance Michael McGrath confirms that Government is delivering a budget package of €14bn, including a spending package of €5.3bn for 2024.

    1.10pm: inflation expected to ease

    Minister McGrath states that incomes are expected to grow faster than the rate of inflation next year, which is projected to fall to 2.9% in 2024. He believes the budget has achieved the correct balance in delivering supports while not contributing to inflation.

    1.06pm: New €14bn fund

    Minister for Finance Michael McGrath says the budget will provide €14bn for an infrastructure, climate and nature fund.

    1.02pm: ministers arrive

    Minister for Finance Michael McGrath and Minister for Public Expenditure Pascal Donohoe have arrived at Government buildings to deliver Budget 2024.

    12.57pm: what farm orgs want

    If you’re wondering what the farm organisations sought in Budget 2024, here’s a round-up of what the IFA, ICMSA, ICSA, INHFA and Macra are all seeking in the budget.

    The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) is looking for €300/suckler cow and €30/ewe in the budget. You can read more on its submission here.

    The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) has sought a slurry storage scheme, among other things, in Budget 2024. Here’s what it is seeking from Government.

    Funding of €35/ewe has been sought by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Association (ICSA), more on its budget submission here.

    The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) is looking for Budget 2024 to allow for a full tax exemption on agri-environmental scheme payments to farmers. More details here.

    Greater tax reliefs topped Macra’s Budget 2024 wish list. You can read its submission here.

    12.45pm: share of the pot

    Agriculture generally gets between 2% and 2.5% of Government spending, which would see agriculture get a spending pot of €2.3bn. However, Irish Farmers Journal agribusiness editor Lorcan Roche Kelly has been examining the sources of funding for agriculture to see how likely this is to come to pass.

    12.40pm: schemes vying for funds

    Schemes editor Darren Carty has outlined the range of schemes which will be vying for funding in the budget for next year.

    From the ACRES scheme to the Organic Farming Scheme and everything in between, Darren takes a look at the big ticket items in the mix for next year’s budget.

    12.35pm: What we know so far

    Today’s budget is set to contain a number of announcements for the sheep, beef and tillage sectors.

    Deputy news editor Barry Murphy details that an extra €8/ewe has been found for sheep farmers, bringing the total payment up to €20/ewe when coupled with the Sheep Improvement Scheme’s €12/ewe. A mish-mash of current schemes will deliver €200/suckler cow and a new €8m fund for the tillage sector is expected.

    This will be separate to the exceptional aid funding announced last week for the sector.

    12.30pm: Budget 2024

    Welcome to the Irish Farmers Journal’s live blog of Budget 2024.

    Over the course of the day, we will bring you all of the latest news and views on changes to the budget for next year.

    At 1pm, Minister for Finance Michael McGrath will deliver Budget 2024 in the Dáil. Stay tuned for updates related to your sector and your farm family.

    In this week’s print edition, we will have a six-page budget special and an interview with Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue.