Budget ‘doesn’t go far enough for our young’
“In many ways Budget 2018 is an inch deep and a mile wide.” That was according to Macra national president James Healy on Tuesday, after Finance Minister Pasc h a l D o n o h o e r e v e a l e d a series of tax and spending measures in the Dáil.
Mr Healy gave a lukewarm welcome to the budget overall, saying it offered “something for everyone”, but he added that “it didn’t go far enough for our young farmer base”. The organisation welcomed a scheme offering loans for SMEs, including agricultural businesses, with Mr Healy commenting: “Access to funding is a struggle for young agri entrepreneurs, we welcome the €300m announced for the Brexit Loan Scheme. “Young farmers must be a strategic priority within this allocation.”
The initiative, which will have up to €300m in capital, will be available at competitive rates to SMEs to help them with their short-term working capital needs. It will be run by the Departments of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and Agriculture, Food and the Marine and is supported by the European Investment Bank Group, the European Commission and the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland.
“The Minister for Finance specifically mentioned the inter-generational shift in farm ownership and management in his budget speech and with this in mind Macra na Feirme calls on Irish banks to prioritise young farmer access to this line of credit. “The maintenance of young farmer stamp duty relief for inter-family transfer is important in the context of a rising stamp duty on commercial property. This young farmer relief supports intergenerational renewal,” he added. However, the Macra national president expressed disappointment that issues of income volatility for farmers were not tackled.
“No other industry could survive the income peak-totrough experienced by farmers. Macra na Feirme had proposed measures through the taxation code to assist farmers in managing volatility. This was a missed opportunity by the minister.” Macra has also called for the additional €19m allocated to Rural Affairs to be ringfenced to support the implementation of the Action Plan for Rural Ireland to ensure vibrant and dynamic areas which will create economic opportunities for rural youth. Mr Healy said: ‘This was a failed attempt at a Late Late Show-style budget where the Government wanted to ensure there was something for everybody in the audience. But what the Minister for Finance has introduced doesn’t go far enough.”
Some of the 2017 Queens with Karen Elliffe, reigning Queen of the Land and WR Shaw representative Leslie Shaw at the launch of the festival in Tullamore.