The removal of the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, in last week’s budget, has been described by local farmers as “a major blow to the beef sector and will further result in “limited uptake of the Beef Breeding Programme”.
They also insist that, despite the introduction of a new scheme to replace sucker cow, young farmers have the most to lose after a budget which farmers say “will place further pressure on farm families” who have seen a drop of 22% in income already this year.
Between the cuts imposed and the extra taxes and PRSI charges, farm families will be hit hard.
President of Macra, Alan Jagoe, summed up the bleak reality earlier this week when he stated, “I am absolutely dismayed that the stamp duty relief on land transfers for young trained farmers was not renewed by the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan.
“The broadening to non dairy partnerships (50% stock relief), and 90% agricultural relief for Capital Acquisitions Tax is an all important trigger mechanism that will now result in most family farms being transferred before a farmer’s 35th birthday.
“Before now this area was an essential and well established measure to effect the early transfer of farms to the next generation, and now flies in the face of the Food Harvest 2020 ambitions which include encouraging more young trained farmers to become established in their own right.”
Mr Jagoe added, “Any gains from this measure will be completely wiped out by the deferral of land transfers in the absence of the key incentive to transfer the farm before the young farmer reached 35 years of age.
“The harsh reality of the recession has meant that young farmers have been further penalised by capital taxes, while the Minister for Agriculture has tried to pave the way for more new entrants – leading to two steps forward and one step back.”
Meanwhile, Longford’s IFA chief, Andrew McHugh said that farmers in the county have borne the brunt of cuts in farm schemes again in this budget, at a time when they were also forced to face other challenges such as bad weather and higher input costs.
“The drystock section suffered heavily as a result of the closure of the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme.
“Cuts in the Sheep Grassland Scheme and cuts in the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme will also be felt and all of this is on top of the extra taxes, PRSI changes, property tax, VAT reductions and also the cuts in Farm Assist for low income farmers,” he outlined.
“Low-income farmers are now questioning why they appear to have been singled out for such harsh treatment by the Government.
“Farmers who were expecting support during a difficult year have been targeted unfairly by Budget decisions that attacked them disproportionately once again.”
All matters are expected to be discussed in detail at the December meeting of Co Longford IFA Executive.