BREXIT UNCERTAINTY CONTINUES FOR FARMERS AFTER TODAY’S BUDGET

8 OCTOBER 2019

ICSA president Edmond Phelan has said today’s budget provides very little detail on how a no-deal Brexit will be mitigated. “The Minister for Finance indicated a fund of €110 million for the Department of Agriculture, of which €85 million will be targeted at beef farmers, in the event of a no-deal Brexit. However, it is clear that a no-deal Brexit would also require support from Brussels. The problem with all of this is that Brexit uncertainty has been almost as bad as the no-deal scenario for cattle and sheep farmers. Nothing in today’s budget acknowledges that reality.”

“We still are not clear as to what will be done to deal with the shortfall in applications for the BEAM programme. ICSA believes that the rate per qualifying animal should be adjusted upwards so that the full exchequer contribution of €50 million, along with matching EU funding can be utilised.”

“Sheep farmers are also feeling the impact of Brexit as low sheep price in the UK is completely undermining our sheep farmers. ICSA believes that sheep farmers are also going to need a package along the lines of the BEAM scheme for beef farmers.”

In other sections of the budget, ICSA is appalled at the further increase in stamp duty on land purchase which has now been increased twice, initially from 2% to 6% in the previous budget, and another increase in today’s budget to 7.5%. “This is a totally gratuitous assault on farmers trying to expand their enterprise. However, we do welcome the extension of the Capital Gains Tax relief for Farm Restructuring for another two years to the end of 2021.”

The increase in carbon tax, which is likely to be the first of many, is simply an unfair tax on rural dwellers. “Most rural dwellers cannot afford an electric car. Hybrid cars are okay for urban commuting but totally unsuited to rural or long distance driving and not practical for towing. Carbon tax without an alternative way of travel or haulage is simply personal tax dressed up in virtuous clothing.”

Mr Phelan described the minimal adjustments to the self-employed tax credit and the Capital Acquisitions Tax Group A rates as begrudging. “Initially, there was a commitment to rectify the injustice of income tax credits in three tranches of €550 a year. If that had happened, the self-employed person would have already achieved income tax parity with the employee. It is manifestly unfair that we are heading into yet another tax year whereby the earned income tax credit is still less than the employee tax credit (€1500 vs €1650).”

ENDS