5th December 2012
The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association has expressed frustration at a policy of continued slashes to vital farm schemes, notably a cut in the Disadvantaged Area Scheme and the replacement of the current Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme (SCWS) with a ‘suckler lite’ scheme. “The €5 million (20%) cut in the SCWS is extremely disappointing and moreover, the fact that the Minister is relying on unused Single Farm Payment funds of €10 million for it gives rise to considerable doubt as to the Government’s long term commitment to the scheme.”
However, ICSA president Gabriel Gilmartin did acknowledge that the Minister would be continuing the Beef Technology Adoption Programme (BTAP) for 2013 and had found €3 million for the introduction of a sheep technology programme along the lines of BTAP. He also welcomed that the Grassland Sheep scheme would continue to be funded in 2013 to the tune of €14 million.
Mr Gilmartin said he was particularly annoyed at cuts to the Disadvantaged Area Scheme. “The DAS has yet again been seen as a soft target with a reduction in the maximum eligible area from 34 hectares to 30 hectares. This is the second cut of this nature to the scheme following a cut from a maximum of 45 hectares in 2009. The DAS is absolutely vital to many low income farmers, particularly in the West. At least farmers in mountain areas will escape this cut, but it will affect 38% of farmers who are eligible for the DAS.”
On the issue of capital taxation, Mr Gilmartin welcomed the announcement of Capital Gains Tax relief for farm restructuring. However, he said that the increase in capital taxes to 33% and the reduction of 10% in the Capital Acquisitions Tax threshold were very regrettable. “In the case of farmers, most capital taxes are levied on family farm transfers where the farm is handed over from one generation to the next. These transactions do not represent an actual ‘cashing-in’ of assets so today’s changes to capital taxation is disappointing.”
ICSA welcomed the extension of the 50% stock relief rate (introduced in last year’s Budget for dairy farm partnerships) to all farm partnerships.
Mr Gilmartin said that the fuel rebate for essential road users was welcome and should result in some relief on the cost of transport of agricultural goods, but he said much more needs to be done on green diesel for agricultural contractors and farmers.