In an overall comment on the Budget announcements last week, IFA President John Bryan said the cuts to REPS4, and changes to the terms and conditions in Disadvantaged Areas and Farm Assist, amounted to a €50m direct cut in farm incomes.
He said the Minister for Agriculture must make a meaningful AEOS scheme available to all farmers leaving REPS3 in 2012.
John Bryan said the taxation measures for farm transfer, investment and land mobility recognised the potential of the agriculture sector to achieve the expansion and growth targets of Food Harvest 2020.
However, he claimed that the reduction in the CAT/transfer tax threshold to €250,000 is an excessive drop, and the increase to 30% in the tax rate on the balance, will impact negatively on the transfer of commercial farms.
Mr Bryan said the introduction of a capital-asset test for higher education grants must exclude agricultural land as it would deny access to higher education to many students from farm families adding that the Government commitment to maintain support for forestry and the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme will underpin production in these sectors.
“Funding for beef discussion groups and the voluntary BVD Eradication Programme will drive efficiency and improve animal health at farm level. The TAMS Scheme must be re-opened immediately to facilitate on-farm investment.”
Mr Bryan commented, “The decision to reduce the commercial stamp duty rates will also help to stimulate activity in the land market, encourage lifetime transfers, and allow farmers who wish to expand, to do so.”
The IFA President said the increases in fuel and motor taxes and the increased VAT rate would have a significant impact on farm business costs, while the household charge is an additional cost for all farm families. “At a time when input costs are rising, these extra bills will take further money out of farmers’ pockets.”
He welcomed the abolition of the Universal Social Charge for incomes under €10,000.
Mr Bryan remarked that the decision to increase the carbon tax would further increase production costs and reduce the competitiveness of the sector, and more clarity is required on the double taxation relief, as all farmers must get full relief on the carbon tax as promised in the Programme for Government.
He said households would be affected by the new charges and cuts in services announced today, and he urged the Government to ensure that services for rural dwellers are maintained.
The IFA President said the decision to impose a new dairy marketing levy comes as a shock as dairy farmers have not been consulted and already pay a marketing levy to the IDB.
“Dairy farmers must be fully consulted and will need a lot of convincing on why this levy is justified and how this money is going to be spent as they are not going to pay on the double,” he concluded.