Bud­get ‘doesn’t go far enough for our young’

Irish Examiner - Farming - - MACRA - Claire Sut­ton macra@ex­am­iner.ie

“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.”

Picture: Paul Moore

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.

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